WASHINGTON — Small forestry products businesses play an important role in combating climate change and should be encouraged to use practices that protect forests against wildfires and that preserve forests, members of the House Subcommittee on Underserved, Agricultural, and Rural Business Development said Wednesday.

Chairman Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, said small companies in the forest products industry, which include logging operators and biomass facilities, often implement sustainable forestry, which hopes to manage and support natural forest resources.

“I believe it’s our responsibility to support industries, like those that we have in our forested states and communities,” he said. “Protecting our environment doesn’t have to be bad for business.”

Golden also said the forest products industry contributes heavily to the economy in Maine, but the industry has faced difficult times in recent decades due to trade policies, outsourcing of jobs and demand slumps.

“Keeping our forest healthy helps to promote sustainability, address climate change and ensure that small businesses and workers in rural areas share the economic benefits as Congress works to address and mitigate the negative sides of climate change and bolster American small businesses,” Golden said.

Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., chair of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, said at a press conference Tuesday that “it’s time for polluters to pay for the harm they have caused to the air that we breathe, the water that we drink, the climate that we share.”

In pushing for congressional approval of the $3.5 trillion spending bill that includes money for climate change measures, Castor said low-cost clean energy and American-made electric vehicles already are available “and we intend to make sure that all Americans enjoy the benefits.”

Rep. Pete Stauber, R-Minn., said forest management is essential for finding solutions to climate-related problems. However, small businesses involved in forestry are discouraged due to high fuel costs, economic shutdowns and a declining industry workforce, he said.

“Forest management is a solution to preventing and mitigating wildfires. Forest management is a solution to ensuring sustainable public lands,” Stauber said. “Forest management is a solution to economic development and job creation.”

University of Maine Associate Professor of Forest Policy and Economics Adam Daigneault said timber markets are important to maintaining the health and sustainability of forests.

“Robust and stable timber markets enable a carefully planned harvest of trees that allow for us to have appropriate stocking levels, balance… species diversity,” Daigneault said.