The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) applauds the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for its bipartisan passage of legislation to preserve the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 35 years of successful regulation of forest roads under the Clean Water Act (CWA). H.R. 2541, reported unanimously out of Committee, would overturn a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (NEDC v. Brown) ruling that would have defined forest roads as “point sources” of water pollution requiring industrial discharge permits typically applied to factories and sewage plants under the CWA.

“This is common-sense legislation that preserves the intent of the Clean Water Act and eases unnecessary regulatory burdens on producers and forest-landowners,” said NACD President Gene Schmidt. “It’s important that private forest owners have flexibility in their approach to conserving resources on the ground.”

H.R. 2541 would keep forests classified as “non-point” sources under the Clean Water Act and would allow states to continue to work under current the EPA framework.

“Successful forest management begins at the local level, through a voluntary, cooperative approach at the state and local level.” Schmidt continued. “This legislation would maintain the ability of local producers and forest-landowners—who know the land best—to continue to serving as the primary stewards of our nation’s public and private forests.”

Conservation districts work directly with, and have the trust of, private landowners to carry out best management practices for all natural resources. Private landowners have a vested interest in ensuring land and natural resources are well cared for, as their livelihoods depend on their sustained well-being. Many forest owners throughout the country voluntarily implement best management practices on their private land to accomplish this. These practices include strong road maintenance, establishing and upkeep of water bars, and streamside management zones.

“H.R. 2541 is a step in the right direction in helping to restore the forest industry, especially in the Western U.S.,” Schmidt said. “The benefits would extend even beyond conservation, from creating forestry jobs, to supporting our nation’s infrastructure.”

To view NACD’s comments to EPA on this issue, click here.