Key Committee Approves Kilmer-led Initiatives to Support Timber Communities

Washington, D.C. – The House Committee on Appropriations voted to approve a measure led by Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) to support timber communities and the effort to grow rural jobs. Kilmer’s proposal highlights the value of collaborative forest management and directs the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to prioritize resources to expedite project development and approval of forest treatments developed by collaboratives. 

In 2015, Rep. Kilmer helped launch the Olympic Forest Collaborative – an effort to bring leaders from the timber industry, environmental community, and local government to work together to create economic opportunity on the Olympic Peninsula. The Collaborative works to advance forest treatments that increase harvest levels while also achieving much needed environmental benefits like landscape restoration, watershed protection, and habitat conservation. The provisions Rep. Kilmer secured in the appropriations bill will help collaboratives – like the Olympic Forest Collaborative – to create more economic opportunity.

“As someone who grew up in Port Angeles, I know how important healthy, sustainably-managed forests are to the economic wellbeing of our timber communities,” said Rep. Kilmer. “Forest collaboratives like the Olympic Forest Collaborative unite folks from the environmental community and the timber industry around a common goal of increasing harvest levels in a responsible way. They need support in order to produce additional timber while also accomplishing important restoration goals. This bill will continue to support new wood technologies and wood that is sustainably harvested - which will lead to more jobs on the Olympic Peninsula. I’m proud to support this bill.”

“We appreciate Rep. Kilmer’s work in the Interior Appropriations process recognizing the need for a more sustainable and science-based approach to managing the Olympic National Forest to improve forest health and reverse the decades long trend of declining timber harvest levels," said Travis Joseph, President, American Forest Resource Council. “We need a balanced plan for managing the Olympic National Forest – one that includes active, sustainable timber harvests to improve the health and resiliency of our forests, provide better public access, recreation, and more diverse habitats for wildlife, and support local economies and communities with good, family-wage jobs in the forest products sector.”

In addition, Rep. Kilmer fought for the inclusion of a $10 million investment for the USFS Wood Innovation Grant Program, established by the USFS to strategically expand wood products and wood energy markets that support forest management and deliver economic and environmental benefits to rural communities.

The Appropriations Committee also approved an investment championed by Rep. Kilmer to supply $27 million to the USFS Forest Products Laboratory to continue research to advance wood markets, including research on wood-based nanotechnology; advanced wood products that incorporate carbon fiber, and wood use in building construction, including research on the life cycle of impacts of wood as a building material. These funds could complement the work being done by organizations, like the Composite Recycling Technology Center in Port Angeles, to drive innovation in this arena with a goal of creating jobs on the Olympic Peninsula. 

The Committee also moved to support public/private partnerships that provide assistance, education, and resources related to the design of non-residential and multi-family wood buildings, and that leverage research and technology investments to create new and expanded wood product markets.

Finally, Rep. Kilmer advanced a provision recognizing the benefits of utilizing Cross Laminated Timber and other mass timber products in military construction projects and directing the Secretary of Defense to expand the application of these innovative technologies in future projects.

“The Defense Department is one of the largest builders in the world. If we can see more projects use sustainable, innovative wood products, that can benefit our environment and can create jobs on the Peninsula,” said Rep. Kilmer.

“The Interior Appropriations Committee Legislation advances the use of innovative wood products to help solve some of our nation’s most pressing issues. Supporting the Forest Products Laboratory and innovative wood products for infrastructure and defense construction is smart, science-based policy,” said Dave Tenny, founding President and CEO of the National Alliance of Forest Owners. “Strong markets for wood products keep forests healthy and thriving so they can continue to provide clean air and water, wildlife habitat, and jobs. We applaud Representative Kilmer’s continued leadership on forestry issues and his tireless work to keep our nation’s forests healthy and thriving.”