American Farm Bureau Federation is urging lawmakers to support legislation to address wildfires. Micheal Clements shares how the bill seeks to reduce the impact of wildfires in the future.
Clements: The American Farm Bureau Federation and 13 state Farm Bureaus this week penned a letter urging lawmakers to support the Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act of 2020. AFBF Public Policy Director Ryan Yates says the legislation would provide managers of federal wildlands more resources to fight and prevent wildfires.
Yates: The Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act represents a great bipartisan step forward in an attempt to give federal land managers additional tools that help them better manage our federal forests, especially out west. And when it comes to looking at a fire season like we are having in 2020, it really identifies the need for continued active management on our federal lands.
Clements: Yates says the legislation will expedite forest management, accelerate post-fire restoration and reforestation, and remove dead and dangerous wood from national forests.
Yates: There’s a number of mechanisms and tools available to federal land agencies and prescribing those types of management actions vary from landscape to landscape. And so, any new tool and authority that could give those agencies better resources and control over active prescriptions to ensure that these landscapes are safe and resilient for the future is certainly a positive thing.
Clements: While the legislation will help mitigate future fires, it will not address the immediate needs of farmers and ranchers suffering devastating losses from fires burning right now. Yates says the 2020 fire season demonstrates the need for this legislation.
Yates: It is a natural part of the ecosystem, but what we’re seeing today is certainly far from natural, and we need to actively manage these lands to ensure that when wildland fire does happen, that it happens in a way that it doesn’t explode into a massive wildland fire.
Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.
Read more on the wildfire legislation.