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National Council for Private Forests
600 Jefferson Plaza - Suite 350
Rockville, Maryland 20852
 

301-838-9385

January 21, 2003

The Honorable Ted Stevens
Chairman, Senate Appropriations Committee
United States Senate
Washington DC 20510

Dear Chairman Stevens:

           The National Council for Private Forests (NCPF), a diverse coalition of national and regional private forest and family organizations, associations, professional societies, conservation groups and academic institutions, is writing to express its members' concern about an Administration-proposed budget amendment that would reduce funding for the recently enacted Forest Land Enhancement Program (FLEP). The Administration's proposal would reduce FLEP funding by forty percent, or $8 million, in the fiscal year 2003 budget. We seek your help in opposing the Administration's amendment, which would transfer this critical FLEP funding to a technical assistance account where it will be unavailable for forest landowner assistance to tens of thousands of non-industrial private forest landowners.

          The NCPF worked with both the Senate and House Agriculture Committees to develop a new model for the delivery of professional forestry services to assist private forest landowners with sustainable forestry practices. The FLEP program consolidates two existing programs and offers a tremendous opportunity to maximize conservation stewardship across a diverse forest landowner base that is feeling rapidly increasing social, economic, and political pressure to provide public goods and services.

          The Administration's proposal erodes the support, confidence, and commitments made by Congress to encourage sustainable forest management practices on America's private forests. As required by FLEP, state forestry agencies have already begun developing priority plans and are working with state forest stewardship committees and forest landowners to determine how forest management practices can best improve wildlife habitat, water quality, and local communities. Without the full funding of FLEP, the ability for the program to reach its goal of fostering the long-term sustainability of non-industrial private forestlands will be significantly threatened, and the program will ultimately become another unfulfilled promise to assist rural communities.

          We are willing to work with you and your staff to achieve a more equitable balance to this important program. Please contact me (301-838-9385) or incoming NCFP Chair Vernon Hayes (301-877-6898) if you need additional information on this issue or if you have counsel for us on what actions to take to retain the authorized level of FLEP funding.

Sincerely,

 

Richard Lewis
NCPF Chair

Cc:    Robert C. Byrd, Ranking Member, Senate Appropriations Committee
         C.W. Bill Young, Chairman, House Appropriations Committee
         David R. Obey, Ranking Member, House Appropriations Committee
         Thad Cochran, Chairman, Senate Agriculture Committee
         Tom Harkin, Ranking Member, Senate Agriculture Committee
         Bob Goodlatte, Chairman, House Agriculture Committee
         Charles W. Stenholm, Ranking Member, House Agriculture Committee

The National Council for Private Forests promotes long-term management and productivity of all forest resources on non-industrial private forestlands.

NCPF members include American Forests, American Forest Foundation, American Forest and Paper Association, Association of Consulting Foresters, Forest Landowners Association, Forest Resources Association, International Association of Fish and Game Agencies, National Association of Conservation Districts, National Association of Professional Forestry Schools and Colleges, National Association of State Foresters, National Woodland Owners Association, Pinchot Institute for Conservation, and Society of American Foresters.

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Contact us: info@ncpf.org