House-Senate Conference Committee On Farm Bill Hold Fate Of Legislation Dealing With Forest Roads

With a new session of Congress underway, a House-Senate Conference Committee has resumed efforts to reach agreement on a new Farm Bill that may deal with the side-issue of legislation that could prevent EPA from requiring permits for forest roads.

Attempts to reach agreement on the Farm Bill bogged down in the closing days of the 2013 session over such thorny issues as food stamps and crop subsidies. While the forest roads issue is not believed to be a sticking point, its fate rests on the overall bill’s final outcome.

The House-version of the Farm Bill would write into law a provision currently addressed by regulations that treat forest roads as a silviculture activity monitored by state Best Management Practices. Continuing court action by an environmental group in the Pacific Northwest seeks to classify forest road activity as a potential “point source” stream pollution and thus subject to regulation permitting by EPA.

The Senate version of the Farm Bill does not contain a similar provision thus the conference issue.

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