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Resilient Federal Forests Act Takes Another Step Forward

June 23, 2015
Blog Post
Bill passed out of House Committee on Agriculture on its way to House Floor

Last week, H.R. 2647 – the Resilient Federal Forests Act – made its way out of the House Committee on Agriculture. The next stop is the floor of the House of Representatives.

The bill, which promotes proper forest management techniques, is getting attention from across the country with more than 40 groups backing this legislation. In my weekly column on Friday (June 19),[1] I quoted Arkansas State Forester Joe Fox, who wrote to me with his support of the bill.

The USFS (United States Forest Service) works hard to deliver critically needed management on NFS lands, but they are hampered by cumbersome regulations, administrative costs, declining budgets, and the increasingly common practice of ‘fire borrowing.’

This legislation aims to undo the ties that bind the U.S. Forest Service and prevent catastrophic wildfires that have ravaged western states during the last two decades.

Columnist Ken Perrotte wrote about the bill in the Fredericksburg, Virginia, Free Lance-Star, noting that leaders of 17 conservation organizations from across the nation have written to me in support of the bill. This, he said, was a sign of a change from some environmentalists on the left.[2]

Soaring, high-canopy old growth forests are impressive and they make for fine strolling. But hardly anything lives in them. Beyond wildlife implications, a lack of active forest management practices over decades is also blamed frequently for the number and scale of catastrophic wildfires.

Some have posited that a mixture of “tree huggers” and anti-hunters who’ve held sway over lawmakers and Department of the Interior policymakers in recent decades created the current situation. Many hunters are also tree huggers, but enlightened hunters want to hug trees at all stages of growth.

Professional forest and wildlife managers are often hamstrung by existing laws and regulations when performing the management practices needed to address current problems.

Maybe, though, things are starting to turn around.

I am glad to see groups from across the political spectrum coming together to promote healthy and thriving forests. With the Resilient Federal Forests Act having made it out of both the Committees on Natural Resources and Agriculture, it is close to a vote on the floor. If you live outside of the Fourth District of Arkansas, I urge you to call your member of Congress and ask them to vote for H.R. 2647, the Resilient Federal Forests Act by calling (202) 224-3121. To find your member of Congress, click here to be redirected to House.gov.

 


[1] https://westerman.house.gov/media-center/editorials/support-growing-resilient-federal-forests-act

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