Statement of Chairman Don Young
May 21, 1997 Full Committee Mark-up
Quincy Library Group Community Stability Act
The Quincy Library Group bill is a good-government proposal. EVERY member of this committee SHOULD support the bill. It is based on trust and common-sense solution. The proposal first came to the Congress 250 days ago! It came to us from the friends and neighbors who live throughout the federal forests in the Sierra Nevada region. People banded together. They agreed to the Quincy plan because their forests are in ecological shambles and their communities are in economic despair.
People from the Sierra Nevadas brought their common ground to Democrats and Republicans in Congress and it has become H.R. 858. I want to stress that the QLG bill is not a Republican bill, but it has elements of Republican common sense. It is not a Democratic bill either, but it has elements of Democratic common sense too.
It was written and is supported by the broad coalition that makes up the Quincy Library Group. The very first "John Hancock" on the QLG agreement is that of Mike Jackson. He is the attorney who represents the local environmental group called "Friends of Plumas Wilderness." For years, Mr. Jackson sued to stop timber sales, but in 1993 he sat with his neighbors and made an agreement that was good for the environment. Like the real John Hancock, Mr. Jackson held firm to his principles of environmental stewardship based on the best science and he put his signature front and center on the agreement. He deserves praise for that because he has taken heat from the larger, "national" environmental organizations for simply doing what is right.
In addition to Mr. Jackson, there are 41 signatures on the QLG agreement. They come from sport fishing groups, conservation clubs, wild river clubs, timber companies, county commissioners, land and trails trusts, women in timber chapters, the local Audubon Society, and even one person in the environmental camp who describes herself and "Quincy resident and independent thinker"
Those 41 friends brought us the Quincy concept. Those neighbors brought us thoughtful changes to the Quincy bill. Those 41 signatories brought us the opportunity to do what is good for the land and right for the people. It is the Quincy group who has asked us to move forward with the bill. It is an idea from them, about their back yard, that will benefit the public resources of this nation.
The Quincy coalition has been patient with the federal government. While some say the process with the bill is moving too fast, the record says it has moved too slow. The Quincy coalition has been trying to get their plan implemented for some 1,400 days! That is nearly four years of running into brick walls. The Quincy coalition, Mrs. Chenoweth, and I believe that the people deserve an answer from the Federal government. They deserve to see their plan implemented in the field for the five year pilot project. Period.
Most recently, the Quincy coalition and the "national" environmental groups spent weeks discussing how to get the Quincy proposal moving, but their efforts wee not successful In a letter to Undersecretary Jim Lyons dated two days ago, the Quincy Library Group summed up weeks of discussions with the national environmental groups:
"[I]t became very clear during these meetings that the substantive resource protection issues we were discussing at the time were actually secondary to [the national environmental groups'] main objective [which was] to "kill" or "stall" our authorizing bill."
In spite of a desire by some to stall or even kill the Quincy bill, Mrs. Chenoweth, Mr. Herger, and I have worked in a open legislative process. Our staff has been in regular contact with the bipartisan group of cosponsors, including Mr. Fazio and Mr. Faleomavagea. A detailed memoranda that outlined several concessions was presented to the Democratic committee staff last week. Drafts of the substitute were shared with cosponsors of the bill and with staff much earlier than required by committee rules.
Mrs. Chenoweth and I still remain open to suggestions of members but now is the time for action on the bill. I support the very gracious substitute offered by Mrs. Chenoweth. It IS the definition of "reasonable."
The most controversial provision that would allow management in spotted owl areas has been REMOVED in the substitute. A new provision that ensures a strict riparian protection is added in the substitute. In total, some 20 accommodations- on everything from timing of the bill to flexibility for the Forest Service- have been made in our committee process.
In spite of the heated political rhetoric that may become part of the debate, we are open to discussing other potential changes to the bill before it is considered by the house.
I strongly support the substitute of the lady from Idaho. She has been patient for 73 days in the legislative process and the Quincy group members have been patient for more than 1,400 days. I urge a vote to report the substitute. I want to work closely with those who may have some suggestions on the bill, especially if you vote to support Mrs. Chenoweth's substitute.