House Approves Forestry Reform Legislation
November 2, 2017
The U.S. House or Representatives on November 1 advanced legislation – the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017 (HR 2936) – that aims to increase timber production and reduce the risk of wildfires on National Forest System lands. The bill would accomplish this largely by streamlining the environmental review process and limiting judicial review for certain projects. The legislation also would establish a procedure for requesting a wildfire disaster declaration on federal lands.
With regard to the SRS program, the measure would expand eligibility under Title III payments to include law enforcement patrols, training, and equipment purchases as eligible expenses. This would help rural counties dedicate critically needed resources to combat illegal marijuana grows on forested lands, among other things. However, it should be noted that SRS is currently expired, and without an extension, this provision would be of minimal value.
Prior to floor consideration, CSAC sent a letter to the California congressional delegation expressing support for a number of the streamlining provisions included in HR 2936. With regard to fire budget borrowing, the correspondence urges committee leaders to adopt the funding structure found in the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act (HR 2862), which would allow agencies to manage emergency wildfire suppression costs for “mega-fires” without impacting other priority programs. CSAC also has encouraged committee leaders to work in a bipartisan manner to ensure that the environmental review process can be completed in a timely and cost-effective manner, without compromising the protection of the natural environment.