Tipton Talks Solutions for Forest Management During Natural Resources Hearing
During an oversight hearing in the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands, Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03) discussed solutions for effective forest management.
“Fire does not know a boundary, from private to state to federal lands,” Tipton said during the hearing. He asked the panel to discuss how forest management on private land compares with that on state and federal lands.
Mr. James Cummins, Executive Director of Wildlife Mississippi, whose family’s land borders federal forest land managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, indicated that his family conducts prescribed burns and implements measures to control invasive species. However, these types of efforts do not occur on the adjacent federal land.
“We’re constantly conducting invasive species control … we create firebreaks, we do controlled burns. The federal land does not do any controlled burns. No invasive species control,” Cummins said. “The firebreaks we put in are for a combination of two reasons. One, we don’t want our prescribed fire to get out, and plus we don’t want any wildfire that may start on public land to cross over the boundary and burn the reforestation efforts we’ve spent time and money establishing.”
In the 114th Congress, in testimony before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Chief Tom Tidwell said that 58 million acres of national forest were at high or very high risk of severe wildfire. The USFS has reported that the direct cost for responding to the impacts of catastrophic wildfires reached $166 million from 2011 to 2016, and wildfires destroyed 36,827 structures between 2006 and 2016.
Tipton has called for the federal government to empower states to proactively take action to restore forest health and reduce the risks of catastrophic wildfires. Language from Tipton’s bill to increase state control over forest management decisions, the Healthy Forest Management Act, passed the House of Representatives as part of the Resilient Federal Forests Act in the 114th Congress.
Following Wednesday’s hearing, Tipton said, “It’s far more efficient and cost effective to proactively manage our forests, and I think the testimony we heard from our panel of witnesses will help strengthen our efforts to craft a forest management strategy that will take immediate action to address the hazardous conditions of national forests.”