U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio Discusses Possibilities Of Healthier American Forests

This story was written by Craig Bidiman, OSU Daily Barometer
Focused on implementing a new Northwest forestry plan, U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio held a town hall meeting in Richardson Hall on Wednesday.

DeFazio, representing the 4th Congressional District in Oregon, also serves on the House Committee on Homeland Security, where he sits on the subcommittee on Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection.

During the meeting DeFazio pointed out many key factors of his proposed plan.

"I am working on a legislation to emphasize an approach to improve forest health," DeFazio said, "by rebuilding old growth, and strengthening harvest regeneration."

The proposal is a reconstruction of the forestry plan used during the Clinton administration.

Major differences between the two - DeFazio's plan will be implemented on both the western and eastern parts of the Northwestern states, whereas the Clinton plan only focused on the western parts of the states.

DeFazio criticized the manner in which George Bush's administration has dealt with the forestry and harvesting business.

"I don't think you can make a good public policy through secrecy," he said.

DeFazio, who has served on the Natural Resources Committee for 12 years, addressed a number of concerns from students and faculty members who attended the meeting.

Questions were raised in regards to bio-diesel advances, forest fire salvaging options, climate change, energy bills, and global warming.

DeFazio even spoke shortly on the current Bush administration.

"We are at a very dysfunctional time in D.C. right now," DeFazio said. "More than any other time since I have been around."

"Problems with money being owed overseas causes a lack of a budget for thinning or fuel reductions."

In accordance with these expenditures, DeFazio has been known to refuse regular salary increases while the national deficit continues to climb. On the Congressman's agenda - a campus tour, a visit with various forestry departments and classes, and a trip to the Sweet Home Boys and Girls Club.

DeFazio presented the club with a $1,000 donation of Nike equipment to encourage kids in becoming more physically active.

The donation was the result of DeFazio's first-place finish in Nike's Reuse-A-Shoe drive on Capitol Hill.

Upon winning the competition, DeFazio chose two Boys and Girls Clubs in Oregon's 4th district to receive the donation.

The donated shoes will be recycled and used to develop new play surfaces for children.

"I think it is great to see him here," said Peg Herring of OSU Extension and Experiment Station Communications. "This is for our legislature to come to campus and take a look at our research methods."

The forestry bill DeFazio has been developing is still under revision, and has not yet been presented for a vote.

While much of the discussion was based around public land, DeFazio reiterated the need for more testing and research on federal land.

DeFazio was optimistic about the proposed plan, which he hopes to have implemented within the next 10 years.

"It's not that we cannot predict or plan for the future," DeFazio said. "It's more that the future is drastically developing and changing, so we are unable to see where we will be years from now."
© 2007 OSU Daily Barometer via U-WIRE