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Press Release

Committee Addresses Wildfire and Forest Management Crisis, Considers Solutions for Federal Forests

  • NFPL Subcommittee

Today, the Subcommittee on Federal Lands held a legislative hearing on a discussion draft of legislation to improve responsible forest management and protect communities from catastrophic wildfires.

“Due to repeated mismanagement and years of neglect, our federal forests are in crisis. The bipartisan conversations we had in today’s hearing are an important step forward in our work to solve these issues. With the modern techniques proposed in my discussion draft, we can empower land managers to use the tools they need to quickly address this problem before it becomes a catastrophe.” – House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.)

"Eliminating active forest management has caused damage to our nation’s forests and federal lands. The most effective way to restore their health and resiliency is to work together on legislation that would begin the immediate treatment on millions of acres of fire-prone federal lands."  Subcommittee on Federal Lands Chairman Tom Tiffany (R-Wis.)


A century of mismanagement has resulted in a perfect storm of overstocked, unhealthy, and fire-prone federal forests left susceptible to wildfires, insects and disease, drought, and rising temperatures. Across the country, more than 1 billion acres are now at risk of wildland fire. Federal land management agencies have identified a combined 117 million acres of federal land at high or very high risk for wildfire, representing nearly one-fifth of the overall land overseen by the agencies. These high-risk federal forests are overloaded with dangerous dry fuels that have been allowed to accumulate due to a lack of thinning, prescribed burns, and mechanical treatments.

There is a scientific consensus among a broad array of stakeholders recognizing the importance of active forest management. Research published this year shows that forest treatments like mechanical thinning and prescribed burning reduce wildfire severity by as much as 72 percent compared to untreated areas. Active forest management encourages sustained, healthy growth while removing much of the dangerous fuel buildups that lead to catastrophic wildfires.

Although the solution is evident, many land managers are facing significant struggles to increase the pace and scale of forest management due to bureaucratic red tape, onerous regulations and frivolous litigation. At their current rate, it will take the U.S. Forest Service more than 30 years to complete the necessary treatments. In particular, the National Environmental Policy Act is a major roadblock in improving forest health. 

At today's hearing, members heard from Forest Service officials and forestry experts from around the country on draft legislation that includes solutions to address emergency wildfire risks, protect communities, provide greater transparency and technology and ultimately help solve the wildfire crisis. 

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