The health and productivity of national forests have never been at a more critical juncture – 129 million dead and dying trees statewide from drought and insect and disease epidemics.
As a result of decades of aggressive fire suppression and hands-off management practices, our forests have become overgrown and mismanaged to the point of becoming virtual tinderboxes. In many cases, these catastrophic fires cannot be controlled, threatening entire communities and leaving charred forests that may not recover for a century or more. These are not the natural fires that have historically cleaned up the forest floors. Fires of the size, magnitude and intensity that we have seen with increasing frequency in recent years are, very simply, an incredibly serious threat to public health and safety.
This is why we must commit to common sense policies that allow local forest professionals, who know and understand the land, more flexibility to access our forests and thin them in a way that reduces fuels and restores them to a more fire resilient and healthier condition. Most recently, I was happy to see my bill, the Electricity Reliability and Forest Protection Act, signed into law. This legislation removes red tape so utility providers can remove hazardous vegetation near power lines before it can cause a wildfire.
In Congress, I will continue fighting for balanced, common sense forestry reforms that help prevent fires before they occur and start recovering our national forests.
For more information concerning my work and views related to Forestry, please contact me.