Allegheny National Forest
The ANF is among the most beautiful areas of Pennsylvania and has a rich and spirited history.
The Allegheny National Forest (ANF) is Pennsylvania’s only National Forest, which is located in Forest, Elk, McKean and Warren counties. The ANF is among the most beautiful areas of Pennsylvania and has a rich and spirited history. During the 19th century, a great deal of deforestation took place in the ANF. Fortunately, the ANF has been re-grown in the last 100 years and is now one of the most diverse forests in the country. Managed by the U.S. Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture, the forest was established in 1923 and is more than a half million acres in size.
The ANF is special for many reasons. The forest is multi-use, meaning that it successfully combines forestry, recreation, tourism, timber harvesting, and energy production. I believe that all of these attributes offer a unique setting to benefit the entire Commonwealth. I have the honor of serving as Chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry, which has jurisdiction over the U.S. Forest Service and oversight authority over the many agencies and programs governing our national forests.
I believe the following points are crucial to ensure the longevity and sustainability of the ANF:
Increase Recreation and Tourism: As a former healthcare professional and Boy Scout Leader, I encourage the many benefits of outdoor recreation and physical activity. In Pennsylvania’s Fifth Congressional District, we are blessed with an abundance of lands that can cater to some of the best outdoor experiences in the state. The ANF offers year-round activities such as camping, fishing, boating, hiking, biking, ATVing and snowmobiling. As your Member of Congress, I will continue to advocate on behalf of expanded recreation and tourism throughout our region.
Continue Energy Production: Recent reports are now validating how much oil and gas actually sits beneath Pennsylvania in the Marcellus shale (roughly 80% of the state). With new developments in technology and drilling techniques, the Commonwealth will finally be able to tap into these resources, and will be able to do so in an environmentally friendly way. This increase in production in Pennsylvania has triggered a much needed economic boon throughout the state. This economic boost could go far to revitalize our economy in the Fifth District, bringing us new jobs, new industries and it could help to lower energy prices.
Increase Timber Harvesting: The ANF is home to the finest hardwood trees in the world; and consequently, timber has become an important part of the economic engine in the Fifth District. I remain concerned by the decreasing amounts of board feet that have been produced in the past decade or so. Back in the 1980s, the ANF was producing around 90 million board feet (mbf) per year, whereas today it is closer to 25 mbf annually. Secondly, I am a strong proponent of using wood waste for the production of woody biomass. Using dead or decaying wood in the forest not only can be used to create clean fuels, but must be part of a balanced forest management plan. A well managed forest is much better off than an unmanaged one. Please know that I will continue to advocate for increased timber harvesting and for the timber industry.
Support the Forest Service: The Forest Service manages the ANF and does great additional work in research. I believe that it is essential for the forest to receive adequate funding in order to carry out these core functions. I am a strong advocate for the Service and for funding levels of the ANF in Washington.
Secure Rural Schools: One final topic of interest for the Fifth District is the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) Program. Under a 1908 law, national forests historically shared 25% of all timber receipts with the local counties and school districts in order to compensate those areas for a lack of a tax base. However, because we have seen enormous reductions in timber harvesting over the past twenty years or so on national forests, Congress created SRS to help the counties pay for these basic needs. This program provides vital federal funding for counties and school districts in or close to national forests that have been hard hit by smaller timber harvests. On June 29, 2012, Congress passed H.R. 4348, which reauthorizes the Secure Rural Schools program through the end of Fiscal Year 2012. Many of my House colleagues and I are diligently working to reauthorize this program for the long term.
For more information concerning my work and views on the ANF or Forest Issues, please contact my Washington, DC office.
I look forward to your feedback.