House Takes Action on Proactive Forest Management
WASHINGTON D.C. – Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03) voted to support proactive forest management in order to maintain healthy forests and prevent catastrophic wildfires. The Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017 (H.R. 2936), of which Tipton is a cosponsor, passed the House of Representatives with bi-partisan support. The bill also includes concepts from Tipton’s Healthy Forest Management and Wildfire Prevention Act (H.R. 695), that will allow state governors, in consultation with impacted county governments and Native American Tribes, to designate high-risk areas and develop emergency hazardous fuels reduction projects for these areas.
“Over the past few months devastating wildfires have ravaged the West, taking lives, destroying property and causing significant damage to our precious environment. These large wildfires are the result of decades of misguided forest management strategies, which have left federal land management agencies focused on firefighting rather than on managing forests to reduce these types of catastrophic fires in the first place,” said Tipton. “We must take steps to reverse this trend, and one way to do that is to streamline the permitting process for management activities such as removing dead and downed timber, and allow agencies to work with local experts to proactively mitigate devastating insect infestations.”
The Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017 gives the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) tools needed to improve the health of federal forests. Additionally, this legislation streamlines the management activity permitting process, without sacrificing environmental protections, so that vital projects can move forward quickly.
The bill also reforms the federal budgeting process for wildfire prevention and suppression efforts to fix a practice referred to as “fire-borrowing,” where federal land management agencies must transfer money from other budgeted line items to cover wildfire suppression costs.
The Resilient Federal Forests Act provides an adjustment to the disaster funding budget cap under the Budget Control Act of 2011 and allows the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior to submit requests to the president for an emergency declaration for wildfire on federal lands under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. Under the new budgeting process, wildfires would be treated like other natural disasters and receive support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Of the passage of The Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017, Tipton said, “Our nation’s forests are in desperate need of a preemptive management strategy. The House took action to advance that strategy and I am proud that language from my Healthy Forest Management and Wildfire Prevention Act was included in it.”