‚Äč More than 80 million acres of national forests are overgrown

 

 Obernolte & House Representative

Natural Resources Committee

 Introduces Major Wildfire Prevention Legislation

 

July 26, 2021 _ Washington D.C.___ 8th Congressional District U.S. Congressman Jay Obernolte (R-CA) joined U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-AK), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and 66 other members in introducing the bipartisan Resilient Federal Forests Act, a major piece of legislation designed to mitigate catastrophic wildfires and improve forest health. Representative Jay Obernolte’s SALVAGE Act, introduced last week, was included as part of the bill. 

“More than 80 million acres of national forests are overgrown, fire-prone and in dire need of active management,” comments Representative Obernolte. “My SALVAGE Act, along with the larger Resilient Federal Forests Act will dramatically improve our resiliency to wildfires by removing barriers to good forest management and delivering the science and tools needed to keep our communities safe.”

"Record-breaking wildfires in the West repeatedly highlight the need for proactive, scientific forest management," Ranking Member Westerman said. "Decades of mismanagement have led to insect infestation, hazardous fuel buildup and dead and decaying trees, creating tinderboxes for the smallest stray spark to ignite a raging inferno. It’s time for Congress to stop sitting on our hands and actually allow the Forest Service to use proven, scientific methods when managing our forests so that we can prevent these fires from occurring in the first place.”  

“Look at places like my home state of Arkansas where drought conditions and environmental stress haven’t been coupled with an increase in the number or intensity of forest fires. Why? Because Arkansas has a robust and prosperous forest economy through which we actively manage both our public and private forests. Science shows forest management drastically improves the health of a forest, which is why the Resilient Federal Forests Act is so important. Every year we delay action means more lives, homes, property and wildlife habitats are destroyed by wildfires. There is no time to waste.!"

The Resilient Federal Forests Act is supported by more than 85 organizations and takes key steps to address the environmental and economic threats of catastrophic wildfires. The bill uses state-of-the-art science to triage the top 10 percent of high-risk fire-sheds and simplify bureaucratic red tape associated with forest management to speed critical projects, reduce costs and streamline environmental reviews. It also incentivizes collaborative projects of up to 30,000 acres to increase the pace and scale of active management, while creating new, innovative authorities that increase tribal management of forestlands and ensure equal state participation in forest management activities.

Representative Jay Obernolte’s SALVAGE Act, included in the bill, gives more flexibility and expediency to salvage and reforestation projects on federal lands, helping to lower fire risks, decrease the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere, and revitalize rural areas across California and the West.

In places like California’s 8th Congressional District, where 90 percent of the land is federally owned, this change in law would substantially improve forest management and prevent wildfires that threaten local communities.