A Senator and a Representative in Oregon are pushing two bills that have been introduced in Congress that would affect wildland fire and forest management. One emphasized logging while the other is about mitigating hazardous fuels near communities.
Last week U.S. Rep. Greg Walden introduced the Resilient Federal Forests Act, which would:
- Reduce environmental compliance restrictions on projects up to 10,000 acres to treat forest stands affected by insects and disease in order to reduce hazardous fuels and protect watersheds. The limit would expand to 30,000 acres for collaborative projects.
- Expedite salvage logging after fires.
- Require replanting 75 percent of burned areas within five years.
- Increase logging on Oregon and California Railroad lands in Western Oregon.
- Remove the prohibition on logging trees over 21 inches in diameter in Eastern Oregon.
U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley is working to pass his Wildfire-Resilient Communities Act that stalled in the Senate last year. One of the main provisions is to appropriate $1 billion to the U.S. Forest Service for ramping up projects that would reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire, including expanding the U.S. Forest Service’s Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program. These projects would carry out hazardous fuels reduction activities on Forest Service lands in areas that are near at-risk communities, are high-value watersheds, or have very high wildfire potential. The goal is to create fire-adapted communities, restore and maintain resilient landscapes, and to achieve safe and effective fire response.
In another wildfire related issue, Senator Merkley said thanks to a $7 million appropriation from the federal government the Oregon National Guard trained 230 Guard members in March to fight fires and another 125 will be trained in July.