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Bishop Statement on Obama Administration’s Catastrophic Wildfire Request to Congress


WASHINGTON, D.C., September 15, 2015 -

House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) today issued the following statement in response to the Obama Administration’s request for Congress to change the way the nation pays for wildfire suppression.

Changing the way we pay for wildfire suppression is only one small part of a much more serious land management crisis that we must address – now.  Our national forests are unhealthy, overgrown and highly susceptible to insects, disease and devastating wildfire. We have 60 million acres at high risk to catastrophic wildfire—we need to treat these forests immediately.

“The House passed bipartisan legislation in July that will enable the Forest Service to move swiftly while also treating catastrophic wildfire as the natural disaster that it is. This crisis demands a holistic approach that improves forest resiliency and fixes our budget challenge. The legislation passed by the House with bipartisan support addresses both and will reduce the cost of catastrophic fires in the future.”

 H.R. 2647, the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015, passed the House with bipartisan support (262-167) on July 9, 2015.  Click here to learn more about the bill and here to see supporting groups.

Background information:

  • Data Undercuts Administration’s Singular Approach: Since 2002, the U.S. Forest Service has transferred $3.2 billion from non-suppression accounts to combat wildfires. A mere $10 million of that total came from the hazardous fuel reduction program, the primary account used for thinning and prescribed burns. (U.S. Forest Service 7/17/2014)
  • House-Passed Legislation Delivers on Fire-Borrowing and Management Crisis: "The administration is pushing Congress to change how the government pays for fighting wildfires... Republicans are working on proposals that would end the transfers, but they also want to make changes in federal law designed to speed up the pace of thinning projects on federal lands." (Associated Press 9/3/2015)
  • House Bill Improves Fire Prevention:  “…a bill aimed at reducing catastrophic wildfires on federal lands by better managing forests before fires and quickly restoring them afterward. [The bill] …would give the U.S. Forest Service the ability to quickly remove dead trees, streamline environmental review rules in some instances and would give greater flexibility for funding fire prevention programs.” (Sierra Vista Herald 6/12/2015)

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Contact: Committee Press Office 202-226-9019

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