The Denver Post
Senate bill would authorize $100M to help prevent catastrophic events
As wildfires rage across California and the West, Democratic and Republican senators have joined forces to help rural communities better prepare for and prevent catastrophic wildfires.
A bill introduced Thursday by senators from three Northwestern states would authorize more than $100 million to help atrisk communities prevent wildfires and create a pilot program to cut down trees in the most fire-prone areas.
Under a streamlined approval process, forest managers would “thin” pine forests near populated areas and do controlled burns in remote regions.
The bill also calls for detailed reviews of any wildfire that burns over 100,000 acres.
Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington state said the bill would “create new tools to reduce fire risk and help better protect our communities,” especially those in the Northwest near fire-prone pine forests.
Cantwell, top Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, cosponsored the bill with Democrats Patty Murray of Washington state, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Republicans Jim Risch and Mike Crapo of Idaho.
Risch, who also serves on the natural resources panel, said the nation needs to “actively manage our forests to reduce the fuel available for fires to burn.”
The bipartisan bill is a compromise between Republicans eager to make it easier for federal land managers to thin overgrown woodlands and Democrats dubious of allowing timber companies greater access to harvest federally owned forests.