Hastings-Tipton Forest Bill Clears Natural Resources Committee

Hastings-Tipton Forest Bill Clears Natural Resources Committee

WASHINGTON–Today, Rep. Scott Tipton’s (R-CO) Healthy Forest Management and Wildfire Prevention Act (H.R. 818) was combined with Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings’s (R-WA) Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act (H.R. 1526) during a Committee markup. The resulting comprehensive Hastings-Tipton forest management package (H.R. 1526) that was passed in Committee today by a voice vote and is now ready for a vote in the House.

Watch Rep. Scott Tipton’s statement in Committee.

H.R. 1526 (Hastings) addresses the shortfall in county revenue for schools and critical services caused by lack of timber harvest by requiring the Forest Service to produce at least half of the sustainable annual yield of timber required under law since 1908 and to share 25 percent of those receipts with rural counties. In order to meet this goal while providing for healthy forests, the bill includes the local management framework set out in H.R. 818 (Tipton) by directing the Forest Service to prioritize hazardous fuels reduction projects proposed by governors and affected counties and tribes. To expedite locally based healthy forest projects, the Hastings-Tipton package builds on the positive streamlining procedures implemented under the bipartisan Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003 (HFRA).

View the full bill here. (Tipton language is under Title 2). 

“I’m pleased to have been able to work with my colleagues on this Committee, including Chairman Hastings to craft a proactive forest management strategy that will take immediate action to address the emergency facing western forests,” said Tipton. “Our package would allow greater state and local involvement in wildfire prevention on federal lands in order to expedite hazardous fuels reduction projects and reduce litigation, and in doing so help restore sustainable timber harvesting, create jobs, and provide a reliable source of revenue for rural education. Time is of the essence and we cannot afford to wait for more fires and more devastation before Congress acts. I urge quick action in the House to pass this needed package.”

Read Tipton’s full statement here.

Background:

Wildfires burned 9.3 million acres in 2012, while the U.S. Forest Service only harvested approximately 200,000 acres of timber. The cost of proactive healthy forest management is far less than the cost of wildfire suppression and cleaning up the aftermath. According to the Forest Service, the agency spent $296 million on hazardous fuels treatment nationwide in FY2012 while spending $1.77 billion on wildfire suppression during the same time.

Earlier this month, Colorado Deputy State Forester Joe Duda testified during a Natural Resources Committee hearing on wildfire prevention. He joined with Tipton in speaking on the need for more proactive management to restore forests to healthy conditions and reduce the severity of wildfire. Read more on that hearing here.

The Healthy Forest Management and Wildfire Prevention Act (H.R. 818) is supported by numerous Colorado counties, the National Association of Counties, as well as state and national environmental organizations and conservation districts. A list of endorsements and additional background on the Healthy Forest Management and Wildfire Prevention Act is available here.

Read Tipton’s op-ed in last Sunday’s Denver Post on SRS, timber harvesting and proactive forest management.