Thank you for the opportunity to submit this written testimony for the Subcommittee's consideration for fiscal year 1999 appropriations for the Department of Agriculture. I am writing in support of increased funding for the State and Private Forestry Program ($2,000,000), and the Forest Inventory and Assessment Program.
In fiscal year 1998, the State and Private Forestry Program received increased funding for the American Pacific insular areas, for which I am grateful. That money was desperately needed, and it is being put to good use this year. Unfortunately, this increase for the Pacific insular-areas came at the expense of programs within the 50 states. As a member of the House Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health, I am very familiar with the serious problems our forests face -- problems which require additional funding in order to be properly addressed. For FY99, I request that funding for this program be increased by $2 million to accommodate the decrease in the state-side funding from last year.
Mr. Chairman, I am also in support of increased funding for the Forest Inventory and Assessment Program. The recent Montreal Process provided for a definition and description of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management in each of the 12 countries, including the United States, who participated. These 12 countries each agreed to prepare a report on their status with respect to the implementation of conservation and sustainable management of their forests.
It is my understanding that the Forest Service has agreed that the survey to prepare the report for the United States should be the basis for a nation-wide forest assessment program. Future funding for sustainable management will be based on the data in this assessment. There is insufficient data from the Pacific insular areas to adequately prepare this assessment and so I request that the Forest Inventory and Assessment Program be increased to acquire data from the Pacific insular areas.