Two bills related to wildland fire will be evaluated in a Congressional hearing before the House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation Thursday, April 11 at 10:00 a.m.
The first one is the “Healthy Forest Management and Wildfire Prevention Act”, H.R. 818 (Tipton):
To address the bark beetle epidemic, drought, deteriorating forest health conditions, and high risk of wildfires on National Forest System land and land under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management in the United States by expanding authorities established in the Healthy Forest Restoration Act of 2003 to provide emergency measures for high-risk areas identified by such States, to make permanent Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management authority to conduct good-neighbor cooperation with States to reduce wildfire risks, and for other purposes.
This bill would give the Governor of a state the power to conduct “emergency hazardous fuels reduction projects” in areas on National Forests that the Governor has designated as a “high-risk area” as a result of bark beetle epidemic, drought, or “the future risk of insect infestations or disease outbreaks”. This could occur with or without the approval of the federal government. The bill would also shorten the environmental review process for these projects.
The second bill is the “Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention Act of 2013”, H.R. 1345 (Gosar):
To address the forest health, public safety, and wildlife habitat threat presented by the risk of wildfire, including catastrophic wildfire, on National Forest System lands and public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management by requiring the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior to expedite forest management projects relating to hazardous fuels reduction, forest health, and economic development, and for other purposes. “Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention Act of 2013”
This bill uses wildfire prevention as an excuse to increase livestock grazing and timber harvest projects on federal land. Like the previous bill, it also shortens the environmental review process for these projects.