U.S. SENATE— U.S. Senators Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the following joint statement on bipartisan legislation they are developing to protect public safety by expediting and expanding the removal of dead, dying and hazardous trees in national forests:
“The 2017 and 2018 fire seasons brought unspeakable loss and grief to California and Montana communities. Unfortunately, millions of acres of forests in our states and across the West remain at high risk of catastrophic wildfires, and there is strong consensus that fire seasons will only get worse. We believe additional resources are urgently needed to protect our communities and tackle these emergency conditions.
“We’re working together to develop bipartisan legislation to improve management and speed up restoration of forest landscapes in California and Montana, create viable solutions for the removal of woody biomass and dead and dying trees, accelerate post-fire restoration and reforestation, and expedite targeted treatments of dangerously dense forested areas where wildfires are most likely to start.
“Our bipartisan bill will take concrete, meaningful steps to improve forest health and address the worsening threat that catastrophic wildfires pose to our communities. We intend to introduce the bipartisan legislation after the Senate returns from the August work period and will work with members of both parties to pass it.”
Last year, nearly 9 million acres burned across the United States. The average acres burned are now almost double what the average was in the 1990s and more than half of the Forest Service’s budget is dedicated to fighting wildfire compared to only 16 percent in 1995.
Daines serves on the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee which has jurisdiction over national forests in the West.