WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senate and House negotiators reached agreement on a comprehensive forestry reform package as part of the omnibus appropriation bill. If passed, the legislation will reduce the growing threat of forest fires by ensuring sufficient funding for proactive national forest restoration and improving forest management.
Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, said today:
“In the wake of last year’s devastating megafires, today’s agreement is an absolutely essential step towards reducing fire threats and improving the safety of local communities by restoring the health of America’s forests. Congressional leaders of both parties deserve credit for rising above partisan politics to reach a comprehensive solution that will ensure the Forest Service has both the resources and tools to proactively restore our forests and reduce escalating threats of catastrophic megafires. This deal is a result of years of tireless advocacy by bipartisan champions from the Senate and House, conservation organizations, the forest products industry, and state governors and county governments—all of whom joined forces to address this growing crisis — and Congress must ensure its passage in the final omnibus bill.”
2017 represented one of the worst fire season in U.S. history, as more than ten million acres burned across the West, including the tragic fires in northern California and Montana that killed more than 40 people. While fire is often essential to forest health, our nation is increasingly experiencing unprecedented megafires that are burning larger, hotter, and longer than ever before. As a result the Forest Service is spending more than half of its budget fighting fires, rather than conducting the proactive forest restoration projects that would improve forest conditions and reduce fire risks. The eight worst fire seasons on record have all occurred in the past 15 years and bad drought conditions are projected for 2018. By proactively restoring our forests and addressing the underlying conditions exacerbating megafires, we will ensure that our forests are healthier and future fire seasons are less destructive.
The National Wildlife Federation has helped lead the national charge advocating for a comprehensive solution to the megafire crisis by testifying before Congress (57:10), publishing a report on America’s megafires, and coordinating a national campaign advocating for bipartisan action.
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