A group of agricultural groups is supporting a federal wildfire bill that was recently introduced by Senators Diane Feinstein and Steve Daines. A coalition of 13 Western state Farm Bureaus along with the American Farm Bureau Federation sent a letter of support for the Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act of 2020. The legislation would provide federal land management with additional resources to address wildfire issues.
“Our organizations believe that increasing the pace and scale of forest management activities, including mechanical thinning and controlled burning, reduces the threat of catastrophic fire, protects lives and communities, and helps safeguard Western natural resources and economies,” the letter states. “We are also very supportive of the provisions in the bill that would streamline permitting processes for hazardous fuels reduction projects and post-fire recovery efforts.”
Some of the provisions of the wildfire bill include three new landscape-level risk reduction projects. The projects would receive a streamlined environmental review process along with certain litigation protections. The legislation also encourages the Forest Service along with the Department of the Interior to increase the use of wildfire detection equipment. The bill also calls for improved wildfire risk reduction practices along roads, trails, and transmission lines.
“This bipartisan legislation will expedite forest management, accelerate post-fire restoration and reforestation, and remove hazardous fuel load from our national forests,” the coalition states. “For this reason, our organizations support the Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act of 2020 as a means to address the West’s catastrophic wildfire crisis.”
Wildfires have burned more than three million acres in California alone this year, highlighting the need for more support for fire suppression efforts. The federal wildfire bill is being heard in the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests and Mining. A companion bill has also been introduced in the House by Representatives Doug LaMalfa and Jimmy Panetta.