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Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. said Wyoming small business owners should soon have an advocate in the U.S. Forest Service to help cope with the impact of the agency's policies.

Steps to establish an advocacy office have come as a result of a hearing requested by Enzi and others last year before the Senate Small Business Committee to address how the rules and regulations of the Forest Service impact small businesses.

"About half of Wyoming is made up of land controlled by the federal government and Forest Service decisions affect our state profoundly, especially our small businesses. An advocate within the Forest Service will be an ally to the small businesses that rely on cooperation with the federal government for their survival," said Enzi

The Senate Appropriations Committee set aside funds totaling about $200,000 for the Small Business Administration, which has begun to take the necessary steps to establish the office. The purpose of the office is to review the impact the Forest Service's rules and regulations have on small businesses that rely on natural resources for their survival.

"Forest Service policies can have a tremendous effect on whether Western communities live or die. Our homes, schools and communities are built in and around Forest Service lands and federal agencies such as the Forest Service should review the impact of their rules on the people they affect," said Enzi.

Enzi held the Senate Small Business Committee hearing on Oct. 4, 2000 to explore the Forest Service's effects on small businesses as well as what could be done to improve the agency's management of the forests. Wyoming rancher Joel Bousman and Wyoming agricultural newspaper publisher Del Tinsley along with other small business owners and educators testified at the hearing.