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Resilient Federal Forests Act treats symptom and disease

October 1, 2015
by U.S. Reps. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.)

As you read this, catastrophic wildfires continue to burn the western United States with no end in sight. More than 8.8 million acres of federal land have burned this summer. The U.S. Forest Service is transferring another $250 million from forest management accounts to battle these fires — a practice known as fire borrowing. This brings the total amount of additional appropriations for wildfires to $700 million for the year — the highest amount since 2002. Yesterday, Congress passed legislation reimbursing the Forest Service for this amount. Unfortunately, more funding alone will not fix our wildfire crisis.

On Sept. 15, the Obama administration implored Congress to address fire borrowing. This is a problem that must be fixed, but dealing with fire borrowing alone only treats the symptoms without addressing the underlying disease.

On July 9, the House passed H.R. 2647, the Resilient Federal Forests Act. H.R. 2647 treats both the disease of overgrown, mismanaged forests and the resulting symptoms of wildfire, disease and insect infestations. It solves the fire-borrowing problem and sets in place wise forest management policies that reduce the risk of future catastrophic wild fires.

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