(Washington, DC) – Congressman Doug LaMalfa issued the following statement after joining colleagues from the House Natural Resources Committee and the Congressional Western Caucus for a Forum on Preventing Catastrophic Wildfires and Restoring Forest Health and Resiliency. Additionally, he joined House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Bruce Westerman in introducing the Resilient Federal Forests Act.
Rep. LaMalfa said, “Communities across the West are being devastated by wildfires and there will be long-term negative impacts to our forests, our water quality, and wildlife habitat. Republicans in Congress are proposing solutions that would help prevent the catastrophic wildfires we are experiencing. Democrat leadership needs to stop ignoring this issue and pass legislation that would address these wildfires. I joined Rep. Westerman’s Resilient Federal Forests Act, which provides solutions to address the declining health of our forests and would help prevent catastrophic wildfires by expediting environmental analysis, reducing frivolous lawsuits, and increasing the pace and scale of management projects. This should not be a partisan issue—it is a common-sense way to help our rural communities most impacted by wildfire.”
“Record-breaking wildfires in the West repeatedly highlight the need for proactive, scientific forest management. Decades of mismanagement have led to insect infestation, hazardous fuel buildup and dead and decaying trees, creating tinderboxes for the smallest stray spark to ignite a raging inferno,” said Ranking Member Westerman. “It’s time for Congress to stop sitting on our hands and actually allow the Forest Service to use proven, scientific methods when managing our forests so that we can prevent these fires from occurring in the first place. Look at places like my home state of Arkansas where drought conditions and environmental stress haven’t been coupled with an increase in the number or intensity of forest fires. Why? Because Arkansas has a robust and prosperous forest economy through which we actively manage both our public and private forests. Science shows forest management drastically improves the health of a forest, which is why the Resilient Federal Forests Act is so important. Every year we delay action means more lives, homes, property and wildlife habitats are destroyed by wildfires. There is no time to waste.”
The Resilient Federal Forests Act was introduced with the support of more than 70 bipartisan Members of Congress and over 85 organizations.
Key provisions of the bill include:
- Utilizing state-of-the-art science to triage the top 10 percent of high-risk firesheds.
- Simplifying and expediting environmental analyses to reduce costs and planning times of critical forest management projects while maintaining thorough environmental reviews.
- Speeding up essential forest management projects by ending frivolous ligation.
- Giving the Forest Service the necessary tools to restore watersheds, improve wildlife habitat and protect critical infrastructure and public safety in wildland-urban interfaces.
- Accelerating reviews for salvage operations and reforestation activities to encourage quick reforestation, remove dangerous hazard trees and economically revitalize rural areas.
- Incentivizing collaborative projects of up to 30,000 acres to increase the pace and scale of active management.
- Creating new, innovative authorities that increase tribal management of forestlands.
- Codifying the principles of shared stewardship and permanently reauthorizing the Good Neighbor Authority to ensure states are equal partners in forest management activities.
- Removing cumbersome interagency consultation requirements that delay forest management activities and attract obstructionist litigation.
- Expanding and improving existing authorities to address insect and disease infestations and increase resiliency to wildfires.
Congressman Doug LaMalfa is a lifelong farmer representing California’s First Congressional District, including Butte, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou and Tehama Counties.
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