Clements: Farmers and ranchers in 13 western states are calling on the federal government to utilize more effective land management practices and policies. Wildfires are a risk to all forms of agriculture and when land management fails to project against wildfires, farmers and rancher suffer. Ryan Yates, American Farm Bureau Federation congressional relations director, says federal prairies and forests need better management.
Yates: A let it burn policy is not appropriate. Those resilient forests can withstand the type of fires that occur naturally in the west. But when they are overloaded and dense and unhealthy, they’ll suffer from insect and disease infestation and be subject to long-term catastrophic fire risks. And those are the things that we are trying to avoid.
Clements: A letter by a coalition of state Farm Bureau organizations urges the administration to use active land management. Yates says that includes forestry and grazing provisions.
Yates: As residents and neighbors in these western communities we want to see this administration grab on to the issue of active land management to pursue new policies and new decisions that will truly turn the pendulum the other direction. We want to see an active Bureau of Land Management, an active Forest Service, collaborating with those rural communities so that you can come up with plans that are going to be sustainable moving forward.
Clements: Without a change in policy and management practices, Yates says rural communities will suffer.
Yates: If our public lands are constantly on fire, nobody is going to want to visit our recreation community, we can’t utilize those rangelands for our livestock and the same thing goes for our forest products industry. We depend on sustainable landscapes in the West and currently the practices that we’ve seen for the last few decades on our public lands are not sustainable.
Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.