Forest Health and Wildfires
If managed wisely, America’s national forests can provide clean water, wildlife habit, recreational opportunities, and abundant domestic supplies of wood products and support thousands of jobs in the timber industry.
Unfortunately, this year’s wildfire season like recent past wildfire seasons, promises to produce several catastrophic fires that have resulted in the tragic loss of life and property. However, in many cases it’s possible to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire through proactive, healthy forest management. While factors such as prolonged drought continue to raise the risk of wildfire, it is imperative that the federal government actively address the one issue within its control: hazardous fuels. Unnatural, overgrown, and unhealthy forests increase the risk of wildfire. Active management; e.g., thinning the forest, helps protect and restore forests while also helping local economies and creating jobs.
The inability of the Forest Service to thin forests due to overly cumbersome and lengthy environmental processes, certain environmental groups filing litigation as well as lack of sufficient agency focus on this challenge has led to a preponderance of overgrown, fire-prone stands of trees. This condition has resulted in deadly and catastrophic forest fires that endanger communities, hurt local economies and release massive amounts of emissions into the atmosphere.
Current Legislation: H.R. 2647, The Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015
H.R. 2647, The Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015, introduced by Rep. Bruce Westerman (AR-4), is a bipartisan bill that will address the growing economic and environmental threats of catastrophic wildfire. If enacted, the bill could be implemented immediately by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to dramatically improve the health and resiliency of our federal forests and rangelands. It simplifies environmental process requirements, reduces project planning times and reduces the cost of implementing forest management projects while still ensuring robust protection of the environment. Click here to learn more about the bill and here to see supporting groups.
Learn more about forest resiliency by reading the graphic below!