| The following letter was sent to Senator Tester's office this morning.
Subject: Request for Jobs Figures for FJRA
I caught your guest column on the FJRA here:
Are you aware that we're in the middle of the biggest economic crisis/recession that our country has seen in 70 years?
Are you aware, Senator Tester, that demand for lumber in America is down 55% and housing starts in America are down 70%? Do you know that because of the economic crisis, lumber mills in places like Main, North Carolina, New York, etc, - where nearly all the timberlands are privately owned - have also closed?
I ask these questions in all sincerity because your guest column here makes no mention of these profound economic realities facing the logging industry and our nation.
Rather, it seems obvious that in order to garner more support for your bill that you're willing to just blame the timber industry's tough times on national forest policy.
Doesn't this seem pretty disingenuous to you, especially considering the hard to ignore economic realities? I mean, seriously, how can you lament the timber industry's tough times with zero mention that lumber demand is down 55% and housing starts are down 70%? Are these not important factors?
Has anyone in your office figured out just how many jobs your logging bill will "create or save?" Seems like that figure should made public, especially if you are going around making these general/generic jobs claims.
Fact is, right now the Forest Service has more timber volume under contract in Montana and our region (300 million board feet) than at any point in the past decade.
That's right, while some people claim we need the FJRA because no logging is able to happen on Forest Service lands, the fact of the matter is that right now the logging industry has enough national forest timber volume under contract to fill 60,000 log trucks lined up end-to-end for 500 miles. All this national forest timber (already under contract to logging outfits) could be logged today or tomorrow or next week.
But with little demand for lumber, the logging companies aren't cutting much of what they already have under contract.
Given this reality Senator Tester, just how will mandating even more logging help? Please honestly answer these questions Senator Tester.