Westerman’s Resilient Federal Forests Act Passes House
Today, the House passed H.R. 2936, the “Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017,” by a vote of 232-188, including 10 Democrats in support. Introduced by Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04), the bipartisan bill provides protection to federal forests and grasslands by implementing scientifically-backed (or proven), proactive management standards intended to lessen the threat of wildfires and other risks.
“This year has proven to be another catastrophic year for wildfires,” Westerman said. “Dozens of lives have been lost, thousands of homes destroyed, and millions of acres burned. Congress spoke today and said enough is enough. We must give the Forest Service the tools it needs to stop these fires before they start. We must end the practice of fire borrowing and treat wildfires as the natural disasters they are, funding recovery efforts through FEMA. We must do what is right for our environment and stop these catastrophic wildfires. I thank Speaker Ryan, Leader McCarthy, and Chairman Bishop for their leadership on this issue and I thank my co-sponsors on both sides of the aisle.”
The bill received praise from House Speaker Paul Ryan, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT).
“We have been reminded in recent months and years that America’s federal forests are in desperate need of active management,” Ryan said. “As a forester, Bruce has put together a bill that provides the U.S. Forest Service with the tools necessary to combat overgrowth, disease, and insect infestation in our forests which will reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire.”
“California and communities throughout the Western portion of our country have been recently devastated by historic wildfires,” McCarthy said. “I have seen firsthand how wildfires have ravaged the forests and communities that I represent in Kern County and Tulare County, as well as the devastation caused by the fires in northern California. Passage of today’s bill will finally allow forest managers to get rid of the dead and dry wood that fuels these fires and swiftly take other management actions all to help prevent wildfires, rather than just suppress them when they take place. The bill also fixes the fire borrowing problem, helping ensure the Forest Service can continue to work on important recreation and maintenance issues in our forests so the public can fully use and enjoy them. I thank Chairman Rob Bishop and Congressman Bruce Westerman for their work on this legislation at a time when our communities are in dire need of forest management reform. I look forward to the Senate taking swift action to pass this bill and send it to President Trump to become law.”
“This is a bill based on a simple idea – that we must do more to expand active management in federal forests," Bishop said. "With this bill, we tackle not only the symptoms of the crisis but also its root causes. We provide the resources for our fire-fighters, but also tools for our land managers to improve conditions on the ground and proactively mitigate the threat of wildfire.”
H.R. 2936 addresses the growing economic and environmental threats of catastrophic wildfire and solves the problem of “fire-borrowing.” The bill streamlines onerous environmental review processes to get work done on the ground quickly, without sacrificing environmental protection.