Congressman Bruce Westerman Re-Introduces Bi-Partisan Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017
WASHINGTON – Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04) re-introduced H.R. 2936, the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017, on Tuesday (June 20). The bill would provide protection to the national forest system by implementing proactive management standards intended to lessen the threat of wildfires and other risks.
“For far too long, our nation’s forests have been fighting a battle for survival. The conflict is not with logging but with the effects of reactive versus proactive management which has resulted in costly confrontations with wildfire, disease, and insects. In 2015, a record 10.1 million acres burned due to wildfires,” Westerman said. “This bill would utilize tools already available to the U.S. Forest Service and provide protection to America’s forests by reducing the risks of wildfires through proper management techniques.”
The bi-partisan bill – co-sponsored by Reps. Raúl Labrador (R-ID), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Rick Nolan (D-MN), Collin Peterson (D-MN), and Scott Tipton (R-CO) – received praise from House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) and Western Caucus Chairman Paul Gosar, D.D.S. (R-AZ).
“After working diligently with a broad coalition of stakeholders and federal land managers, Rep. Westerman’s bill is the solution we need to address our forest health crisis and significantly improve the resiliency of our nation’s forests,” Bishop said. “The tools in this bill can be implemented immediately by federal land management agencies to increase the pace, scale and cost efficiency of forest management projects without sacrificing environmental protections. I commend Rep. Westerman on his continued leadership on this issue and look forward to working with our colleagues in the House to advance this legislation forward.”
“For far too long, our wildfire policies have been too focused on playing catch-up instead of encouraging proactive management to prevent devastating fires from wreaking havoc on our forests and communities. Old forest overgrowth has created a literal tinderbox that threatens the well-being of our forests, and insects and disease have run rampant due to a lack of active management,” Gosar said. “It defies common sense that a small fraction of our federal lands are treated by the U.S. Forest Service, particularly given the scientifically proven benefits of doing so. Unfortunately, my district has seen first-hand the impact of mismanagement.
“This legislation will streamline the permitting process for proactive thinning projects while simultaneously ensuring reforestation activities. Inter-agency dysfunction and frivolous lawsuits from environmental extremist groups have plagued forest management long enough. This bipartisan bill will not only strengthen collaboration between the federal government and local stakeholders, but will also improve forest health for generations to come.”
Westerman previously introduced the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015 during the 114th Congress. It passed the House with by a vote of 262-167, including 21 Democrats crossing the aisle to support the bill.