Madam Speaker, I rise today to offer the Act to Save America's Forests.
Our forests are an extraordinary natural resource which must be preserved. Unfortunately, aggressive logging practices on Federal land have eliminated much of our Nation's remaining forests and their native biological diversity. This is a sensible bill to limit aggressive logging and protect our forests and our environment.
The Act to Save America's Forests bans clearcutting in all Federal forests. It also ends logging in the last virgin forests, roadless areas, and other core regions of the Federal forest system. The bill allows for limited and ecologically sustainable logging in lands that have already been logged outside of core forest areas.
An important provision of the bill transfers jurisdiction of the Giant Sequoia National Monument from the Forest Service to the Park Service to manage and protect this important ecological asset. The Forest Service has continued to allow logging of the sequoias, which is not acceptable, and the courts finally put a stop to this egregious practice. My constituent, Martin Litton, has fought tirelessly for decades to protect the magnificent giant sequoia trees and the congressional action proposed in the Act to Save America's Forests will ensure their long term protection.
This year, the bill includes a new provision for the Department of Interior to conduct environmental surveys to identify ecosystems not currently included in our national park system. These studies will identify needs to ensure that our national parks will preserve as much natural diversity as possible.
Preserving our forests not only ensures that we will maintain the natural beauty of our Nation, it will help mitigate climate change by reducing carbon emissions. Forests are an important carbon storage medium and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated that deforestation accounts for 20-25 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions. In 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that forests in the U.S. absorbed enough carbon dioxide to offset 11 percent of our country's emissions. Logging reduces the capacity of our forests to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, so unless we act now to prevent aggressive logging, we could lose 50-80 percent of our carbon storage capacity and reduce our ability to mitigate the effects of climate change.
The Act to Save America's Forests will ensure that future generations of Americans will inherit and enjoy our Nation's irreplaceable natural forest treasures.
I'm very proud to introduce this bipartisan bill with 70 cosponsors and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join me in supporting this important piece of legislation.