House passes Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015

WASHINGTON—The National Association of State Foresters appreciates the steps taken by Rep. Bruce Westerman (AR-4) and his colleagues in the House of Representatives Thursday to pass Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015 (H.R. 2647).

Jim Karels, National Association of State Foresters president and Florida State Forester, said today:

“State Foresters have a strong interest in the health and productivity of all forests. America’s forests are up against destructive wildfire, pests and disease, drought and other threats. These stressors continue to drive uncharacteristic landscape-level change on federal forestlands.

“Up to 82 million acres, more than 40 percent of the National Forest System, are in need of accelerated treatment and restoration activities to begin to restore our federal forests to a more sustainable, healthy and resilient condition. Legislative solutions such as H.R. 2647 streamline implementation of active management projects that help reduce wildfire risks and boost forest resilience.

“Increasing the USDA Forest Service’s ability to deliver both adequate forest management and fire response is critical. Wildland fire suppression costs for fiscal year 2015 are expected to exceed appropriated funds by more than $200 million. State Foresters appreciate efforts by Congress to deliver a new fire suppression budgeting mechanism. State Foresters are encouraged by the fire funding language included in H.R. 2647.

“This legislation is an important first step to fix the broken funding system for the nation’s increasingly destructive fires. Funding fire suppression similarly to how other disaster responses are budgeted for provides federal agencies the resources needed to successfully manage wildfires while also investing in proactive work to improve and protect the health of forests.

“By protecting our forests we help ensure the continued flow of clean air and water, jobs, recreational opportunities and aesthetic values that forests provide and that help strengthen America’s communities. We encourage members of Congress to continue the dialogue about federal forest management and wildfire funding.”

Contact: Brent Keith, Policy Counsel at bkeith@stateforesters.org or 202-624-5977.