House Initiates Action to Address Wildfires and Improve Forest Management
WASHINGTON, DC – Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed H. R. 2936, the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017, by a vote of 232 to 188. In passing the measure, the House initiated action to address some of the weaknesses in the current national forest management system. The legislation would reduce the regulatory burden forest managers face when trying to combat wildfires, produce timber, and maintain the health and productivity of America’s national forests.
“For years California’s forests have been ravaged by wildfires, and I have been working to address how we manage our forests and combat these fires. As a result of arcane budgeting rules, funds intended to prevent wildfires have been used instead to fight them. This leads to an endless cycle of trying to minimize the devastation of these wildfires on our communities after they have started, as opposed to managing our forests to prevent fires in the first place,” said Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16). “Although the bill we passed in the House will likely require improvements to pass the United States Senate, today the House took a step to address the many challenges we have managing our federal forests in a common sense way. Given the devastation of this year’s wildfire season, it is far past time that Congress finally address this issue with legislation that will help decrease the frequency and intensity of wildfires, increase our water supply, improve forest management, and, in turn, strengthen the economic vitality and health of California’s mountain communities.”
The U.S. Forest Service has spent more than $2.3 billion on fire suppression in the 2017 fiscal year, the most ever spent in a single year to fight wildfires. Almost $576 million of this nearly $2.3 billion was originally designated for forest management activities.