US lawmakers reintroduce bipartisan, bicameral FIRESHEDS Act to improve wildfire prevention efforts; legislation has support from a wide range of forest-sector trade groups and other stakeholders

Sample article from our Government & Public Policy

WASHINGTON , May 18, 2023 (press release) –

Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Blake Moore (R-UT)

Today, Congressman Blake Moore was joined by Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX) and Senator James Risch (R-ID) in reintroducing the Forest Improvements through Research and Emergency Stewardship for Healthy Ecosystem Development and Sustainability (FIRESHEDS) Act, which would allow for the establishment of fireshed management areas. These areas, created in close partnership with state governors, would allow the Secretary of the Interior to designate one or more landscape-scale fireshed areas within a state to conduct fireshed management projects and use advanced technologies and wildfire hazard models to reduce threats to public health, critical infrastructure, wildlife habitats, and watersheds. This would be accomplished by creating fuel and fire breaks, conducting hazardous fuels management and prescribed burns, and removing unhealthy tree stands.

“Over a billion acres of land in the U.S.—including nearly one-third of Forest Service lands—face the escalating threat of wildfires. Even with this year’s snowpack, the historic drought season in states like Utah , California , Idaho , and across the West amplify the risk of wildfire,” said Congressman Blake Moore . “In the past decade alone, 75 million acres have burned, threatening our communities, our health, and our environment. The FIRESHEDS Act will empower our land managers with cutting-edge technology to target the high risk firesheds with landscape-scale treatments and permanently reauthorize the Good Neighbor Authority and promote Shared Stewardship. By expediting analysis and review of forest management practices, we can protect public health and safety, restore watershed health, improve critical habitat, and safeguard critical infrastructure. I am proud to lead this crucial effort as our nation continues to tackle threats from wildfires.”

Over a billion acres of land in the United States are at risk for wildfires. Wildfires have become more common and destructive due to forests being overstocked with fuel, fire exclusion policies, regional droughts, high wind events, longer fire seasons, and the increasing prevalence of human-started wildfires. The size of modern forest fires is far outpacing the scale of current preventative efforts. As a result, the cost and environmental impact of these wildfires is skyrocketing.

“My home state of Texas is decorated with over 60 million acres of forestland – but punished with over 10,000 wildfires a year. We can’t afford to trivialize these relentless fires and their widespread, devastating effects,” said Congressman Henry Cuellar . “The provisions in the FIRESHEDS Act will reform our forest management practices by utilizing environmental analysis, research, and other necessary instruments for effective forest resiliency. I’m committed to protecting the landscapes, resources, and natural beauty of our country. This bill will do just that–curtailing catastrophic wildfires, restoring our wildlife habitat, and protecting public safety. I want to thank Congressman Moore for his leadership on this effort.”

“Years of federal mismanagement have transformed Idaho’s once-healthy and productive forests into a tinderbox. These misguided policies have led to extreme fuel buildup and hampered timber economies all in one,” said Senator James Risch . “The FIRESHEDS Act is the solution for America’s forest health crisis by advancing rapid and aggressive management and empowering on the ground land managers to reduce fire risk.” 

This legislation enjoys support from the following organizations: Utah Association of Counties , National Association of Counties , Colorado Timber Industry Association , Associated California Loggers, Minnesota Forest Industries , American Forest Resource Council , Southeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association , Black Hills Forest Resource Association , Intermountain Forest Association , Associated Contract Loggers & Truckers of Minnesota , American Loggers Council , Montana Wood Products Association , Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association , Associated Logging Contractors—Idaho, Associated Oregon Loggers, American Forest & Paper Association , Hardwood Federation , Idaho Forest Group , American Property Casualty Insurance Association , National Society of Professional Surveyors , Grassroots Wildland Firefighters, and US Geospatial Executives Organization .

Bill text can be found HERE.

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