Wildfire legislation has languished in Congress, and more must be done. But the House has acted. In July 2015, we passed the Resilient Federal Forests Act (House Resolution 2647) with bipartisan support. This bill streamlines forest thinning and fire prevention, and addresses funding issues.
While drought has played a large role, the underlying issue with our unhealthy forests can be traced back to decades of neglect due to litigation. Now we have too many trees competing for too little water.
Forests are so dense that any immediate fix is difficult; there are not enough mills to process the dead trees. Market conditions languish for these logs and many are commercially unappealing for domestic use because of bark beetle damage. I am working on removing export barriers so the Forest Service can sell the timber.
The inability to manage for the future because of special interests groups has left resources in sharp decline and the bounty of our Golden State in question. With fires ravaging our state, Valley Republicans in the House haven’t given up.
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We sent HR 2647 to the Senate again in May, this time as part of larger package of bills. I hope California’s senators get on board, because firefighting shouldn’t be a partisan issue – it’s about public safety and protecting our natural resources.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Bakersfield