Committee Republicans Move Solutions to Increase Forest Management, Improve Wildland Firefighter Conditions and Address the Wildfire Crisis
Today, the Subcommittee on Federal Lands held a legislative hearing on nine bills focused on forest management, wildland firefighter reforms and fire suppression policies. Subcommittee Chairman Tom Tiffany (R-Wis.) issued the following statement in response:
“If we want to truly confront the wildfire crisis, Congress needs to speed up the permitting bureaucracy that’s been slowing down forest management projects for decades. Today, House Subcommittee on Federal Lands Republicans advanced legislation to actively manage our forests and put hardworking wildland firefighters into winnable situations. This is a step in the right direction to help slow down the catastrophic wildfires across the West.”
Wildfires have catastrophic consequences for America's forests and have only grown stronger and more devastating in recent years. Decades of inadequate forest management created an unprecedented forest health crisis, and without significant change, wildfires will continue decimating America's forests, threatening lives and communities, endangering wildland firefighters and polluting our air and water.
Today's hearing focused on legislation that would streamline the bureaucracy that is preventing active forest management, the adoption of new firefighting technologies and the hiring wildland firefighters.
H.R. 188 would make the 10,000-acre Tahoe Basin CE available throughout the entire National Forest System, as well as all public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
H. R. 934 would give clear direction to the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to immediately suppress wildfires on certain lands identified as being under certain drought conditions or at high risk of wildfire, in addition to times when the wildfire response is at its highest level and resources are strained.
H.R. 1450 would revise the Good Neighbor Authority program, clarifying Tribes and counties may participate and retain revenue from timber sale contracts under Good Neighbor Agreements with the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of the Interior (DOI).
H.R. 3522 creates a fireshed management concept based on the fireshed risk maps developed by USFS researchers and the principles of shared stewardship, which is similar to the approach currently being used in USFS's 10-year "Confronting the Wildfire Crisis Strategy."
H.R. 3499 would first give the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior permanent direct hire authority to hire qualified candidates on an expedited basis. The bill also directs USFS and DOI to identify policies and propose changes to reduce the time and complexity of hiring wildland firefighters and support personnel.
H.R. 3389 would require USFS and DOI to conduct an evaluation of the use of the container aerial firefighting system in response to wildfires. The evaluation will focus on effectiveness, cost, ease of delivery and safety.
H.R. 3396 would require the Secretaries of Agriculture, the Interior, Homeland Security and Defense to establish standard operating procedures for fire suppression cost-share agreements.
H.R. 1726 would require the Secretary of the Interior to partner and collaborate with the Secretary of Agriculture and the state of Hawaii to address Rapid Ohia Death.H.R. _, "Forest Service Flexible Housing Partnerships Act of 2023" aims to address the lack of available and affordable housing for wildland firefighters by providing additional authority for the Forest Service to lease underutilized lands for housing partnerships.
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