Thompson Holds Oversight Hearing on U.S. Forest Service Proposed Groundwater Resource Management Directive

Sep 11, 2014 Issues: Agriculture, Allegheny National Forest

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Glenn 'GT' Thompson (PA-5), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry, held a public hearing to review the U.S. Forest Service’s proposed Groundwater Resource Management Directive.  The agency asserts the new plan, which was issued in May 2014, is intended to provide a more comprehensive approach to managing groundwater resources on Natural Forest System land.

In June, Rep. Thompson joined 38 other lawmakers in sending a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack warning that the U.S. Forest Service’s proposed directive will restrict access to public lands and interfere with state and private water rights.  Today’s hearing was intended to clarify and address concerns with the directive.

"The topic of water and forest management is critically important for all Americans – especially so for our farmers, ranchers, and rural communities who live off the land. I am gravely concerned that this directive would create more problems than it proclaims to solve, and will further undermine the ability of the Forest Service to carry out its management responsibilities,” stated Rep. Thompson.

Members of the subcommittee heard from Mr. Thomas L. Tidwell, Chief, U.S. Forest Service, USDA, who explained more about the policy and potential outcomes.  Other witnesses included stakeholders from state organizations and the agricultural community who discussed their perspectives and concerns about the proposal.

“Furthermore, I and many others question the agency’s legal authority to regulate groundwater in the manner proposed in the directive. I strongly believe that this action is a direct infringement of the states’ authority,” Rep. Thompson added. “I look forward to working with Chief Tidwell and the Forest Service to ensure that the concerns of states, private landowners, and users of the National Forest System, including timber producers, are addressed.”