Insect-area designation will help the forest

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Regarding “Corbett’s Designation of Forest as Insect Area Questioned” (June 15): It is unfortunate that some extreme environmental groups and their supporters have opted to put politics before forest health in their attacks on Gov. Tom Corbett related to the Obama administration’s recent designation of portions of the Allegheny National Forest as a special insect and disease treatment area.

The ANF is under assault from a litany of insects and diseases that threaten to dramatically impact overall forest health across the landscape. Without action, Pennsylvania’s state tree, the hemlock, could all but disappear from the ANF, as well as most of the ash and beech trees. The ANF could also see widespread die-offs of an additional 44 tree species.

This designation on the ANF will allow the U.S. Forest Service to more quickly and effectively plan forest health treatments and forest restoration projects. It may also allow the ANF to access future additional federal monies for these efforts.

These forest health treatments must be science-based and developed with collaboration from the local community and environmental groups. Wilderness areas on the ANF are off limits. Healthy old growth and large trees will be preserved. No permanent roads will be created.

A healthier, more resilient forest will provide more of the wide-ranging benefits that Pennsylvanians expect and deserve from the ANF — clean air, clean water, wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration, recreation experiences and forest productivity that supports middle-class wood manufacturing jobs.

That is why we support this effort.

The opportunity for this new designation on national forests such as the ANF was authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill with bipartisan support of Congress. Gov. Corbett petitioned the Obama administration for the designation, based upon the science-based recommendations of state forestry officials and ANF staff.

All of these individuals should be commended for their efforts to improve the health of the ANF.

It is too bad that some “forest advocates” would rather see the health of the ANF suffer further in order to advance their political objectives.

Executive Director
Pennsylvania Forest Products Association

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