The House Committee on Natural Resources Press Office
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The Source from The House Committee on Natural Resources

 What They're Saying: Wildfire Crisis Edition

January 9, 2017 | House Committee on Natural Resources 

Today, the House will consider H.R. 2936, the "Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017," comprehensive legislation to address the nation's wildfire and forest health crises.  

The 2017 wildfire season has been devastating, with over 52,000 fires, 8.8 million acres consumed, nearly 8,000 homes lost and countless families displaced and lives shattered. The U.S. Forest Service has already spent close to $3 billion on fire suppression, and a growing chorus of Americans – including mainstream environmental groups – are acknowledging that greater forest management can improve forest health, lessen the severity and cost of fires, and is needed to protect communities and the environment.

That’s what H.R. 2936 delivers, and here’s what over 95 conservation, forestry and industry groups are saying about it:  

 Conservation Groups: 
  • National Wild Turkey Federation: "[W]e should enact wildfire funding and forestry reform simultaneously. We cannot fully address the core problems of active forest management and improving agency processes without both reforms… Congressional leaders to adopt these important revisions so agencies may continue to improve forest health, reduce the potential for catastrophic wildfire and protect our lands for many future generations."
  • National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers: "Wildfires pose a threat to historic resources and NCSHPO supports your effort to reduce their risk. As the bill moves forward, NCSHPO and its members remain ready and willing to help find a solution to any challenges faced in the management of our nation’s forests."
  • Coalition of hunters, anglers, recreational shooters and conservationists: "Our organizations which represent millions of hunters, anglers, recreational shooters and other conservationists express our strong support for H.R.2936, the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017…Our nation’s federal lands play a vital role in maintaining the healthy forests that are resilient to threats at a landscape level from fire, pests, disease and insects… It is imperative that we work to restore wildfire-impacted lands for the ecological health of the immediate area and surrounding landscape, protection of the watershed, and economic vitality of the local communities."
  • National Association of State Foresters: "NASF represents the heads of state forestry agencies in all fifty states, the District of Columbia and the US Territories... We feel the [Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017] would indeed create the end results our members support as our members want to see more active management of federal forest lands. Expedited planning and analysis, prompt response to catastrophic events, alternative dispute resolution, greater collaboration and less costly litigation are all outcomes that for which we strongly advocate."
  • Former United States Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell: "The Forest Service welcomes legislation that expands the tool set we can use to restore our nation’s forests while staying within the boundaries and intent of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act. Forest restoration projects provide rural jobs, mitigate the severity of wildfires, enhance watershed conditions, and ensure a variety of other economic, social and environmental benefits for the American people."
 Fish and Wildlife Agencies:
  • Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies: "The ['Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017'] is vitally needed to restore the health of our Nation’s federal forests on USFS and BLM lands... Congress mandated that the federal forests were to be managed for water quality, wildlife habitat, recreation and timber harvest… A return to active forest management will facilitate realization of all of the public values of federal forests.' 
  • Intertribal Timber Council: "The Executive Board of the Intertribal Timber Council (ITC) supports H.R. 2936, the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017, sponsored by Rep. Bruce Westerman. We wish to particularly express our strong support for Title VII, which will enhance tribal input and involvement in the restoration of federal forest lands. Such restoration projects are sorely needed to improve forest health and reduce threats to lands held in trust for Indians as well as non-trust federal land upon which Indian tribes access for traditional, subsistence and treaty guaranteed purposes."
  • National Association of Counties: "On behalf of the National Association of Counties  the only organization representing the nation’s 3,069 counties, parishes, and boroughs, and the Western Interstate Region, we write to express support for H.R. 2936, the 'Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017'... Counties believe that active management of federal lands and forests must be done in a sustainable manner that ensures the health of our federal lands for generations to come." 
Labor Unions: 
  • Forest Products Industry National Labor Management Committee: "[The Resilient Federal Forests Act] provides a responsible budgetary solution and targeted forest management reforms to improve the health and resiliency of America’s forests.  Adoption of these proposals will enhance federal forest stewardship; protect forest ecosystems from catastrophic fire and disease; and preserve rural, family wage jobs." 
  • National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association: "The Resilient Federal Forests Act strikes a balanced approach in managing the national forest system by making more land available for logging in an environmentally sustainable way. Poor land management during the past 30 years has led to declining health of national forests. This has resulted in fewer jobs and productivity in the forest sector, fewer board feet of domestically produced lumber entering the market, and a marked increase in acreage ravaged by insects, disease and fire."
  • National Association of Home Builders: "On behalf of the more than 140,000 members of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), I am writing to express NAHB’s strong support for The Resilient National Forests Act of 2017 and express our appreciation to the House Committee on Natural Resources for continuing this important discussion on the health of our nation’s forest. Better forest management practices that are also mindful of environmental considerations will help strengthen the housing supply chain and promote affordable housing opportunities for all Americans."
  • National Cattlemen’s Beef Association: "H.R. 2936 is proactive, common sense legislation… It is scientifically proven that proper timber management and rangeland management through grazing is the key to maintain healthy forests and preventing catastrophic wildfires."