Mar 23, 2011 Issues: Economy and Jobs, Energy

Cloudcroft, NM (March 22, 2011) Today, Congressman Steve Pearce officially announced introduction of H.R. 1202, a bill to restart jobs in New Mexico’s once-thriving timber industry.  Pearce has continually advocated a “balanced approach” to logging—he opposes clear-cutting, and his two-page bill allows for the protection of the Mexican Spotted Owl in sanctuaries.  “I just think we need some common sense solutions” he explained.

“We need to put people back to work,” said Pearce.  “We need to protect the spotted owl, but we need to find a way to do so that does not kill a single American job.  The ban on logging in the area has crippled the local economy, and has led to an unhealthy forest, dried-up streams and aquifers, and a high risk of fire.  We must seek a balanced solution that helps the economy and protects the environment.”

The announcement was heavily attended by prominent members of the community, including Otero County Commissioners Tommie Herrell and Ronny Rardin, and Cloudcroft Mayor Dave Venable.  Venable thanked Pearce for introducing the bill, and called it “an important first step” for both the local economy and the environment.  Venable said that logging was once the number one industry in the area, but that heavy regulation eliminated the lifeblood of the local economy and led to unhealthy forests.  Venable said he was “proud of the Congressman…for his goal of creating jobs and creating a healthy forest.”

Mike Nivason, a Cloudcroft resident, explained that debris on the forest floor in the area is approximately ten times that of a healthy forest.  This, coupled with the density of the tree growth, creates a massive risk for devastating fires.  In addition, the high numbers of trees use much more water than normal in New Mexico, and the thick understory increases runoff, both of which reduce aquifer levels significantly.

Local logger John Braziel took the Congressman on a tour of the area and showed him the devastating impact of excessive logging regulation.  He explained that even the healthiest area nearby was still considerably more dense than the ideal conditions.  Clearing efforts, he explained, would create hundreds of sustainable jobs, while providing a much-needed environmental service.

In the last 30 years, the U.S. has lost 38,000 jobs in the timber industry.  Regulations taking an extreme approach have had heavy economic costs, eliminating jobs and stifling economic growth.  In his announcement, Pearce highlighted the importance of job creation as the key to economic recovery.  The results of healthy regulatory balance, Pearce points out, are two-fold.  Moving an individual off of unemployment by creating a job not only reduces the cost to the country, but increases federal revenue by adding a taxpayer. 

Pearce’s bill was officially submitted on Thursday, March 17th.