Rep. Westerman’s Forestry Bill a “Win-Win-Win,” Builders Tell Congress

June 15, 2017

A draft legislative proposal by Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) would encourage better management of the nation’s federal forest natural resources while also ensuring the continued recovery of the housing industry, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) told Congress today.

“The nation’s home builders believe that increasing domestic lumber production from federal lands, both as a means to improve housing affordability and address the resiliency of our national forests, must be a top priority of Congress and the Trump administration, said NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald, a home builder and developer from Kerrville, Texas.

Testifying before the House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Federal Lands, MacDonald added that Westerman’s legislative draft, the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017, would “significantly reduce red tape that prevents the U.S. Forest Service from better managing its timber lands and increase the delivery of domestic timber products into the market.”

America cannot meet the nation’s demand for lumber, which accounts for the largest share of the cost of a home among all other building materials. Lumber accounts for approximately $18,000 of the cost of constructing a single-family home and lumber price hikes can have a detrimental effect on our nation’s housing market.

For decades, timber harvests from the National Forest System averaged between 10 and 12 billion board feet per year. That number plummeted to an average of between 1.5 and 3.3 billion board feet in the mid-1990s and has remained artificially low ever since.

Poor land management marked by bureaucratic mismanagement and litigation during the past 30 years has led to declining health of our national forests. The result of this decline is fewer jobs and productivity in the forestry sector, fewer board feet of domestically produced lumber entering the market, and a marked increase in acreage ravaged by insects, disease and fire.

Westerman’s legislative proposal would strike a balanced approach in how the nation manages its national forests system by making more federal forest lands available for logging in an environmentally sustainable way.

“This will not only restore the health of one our great natural resources, our forests, but also offer the potential to reinvigorate the forestry industry while improving housing affordability. That’s the definition of a win-win-win,” said MacDonald.