A Resolution Supporting the Passage of Legislation To Reform Federal Forest Management and Fix Wildfire Funding

By the Oregon Logging Conference

February 22, 2918

 

WHEREAS, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, over 8.2 million acres of forest land burned across the nation in 2017 including over 700,000 acres in Oregon of which 95 percent were on federal lands, resulting in yet another record-breaking fire season, and

WHEREAS, the fires cost over $2.4 billion to suppress and required the U.S. Forest Service to redirect $400 million from other agency programs, including those that help reduce the size and severity of wildfires on federal land through active management, in order to meet the demand for fire suppression funding. Fire suppression consumed 55 percent of the agency’s budget in 2017 compared to 15 percent twenty years ago, and

WHEREAS, this so-called “fire borrowing” has resulted in an increasing amount of federal forest land facing immediate risk of catastrophic wildfire and insect and disease infestations due to this redirection of funding intended for preventative management measures such as timber harvesting, thinning, fuel reduction and prescribed fire, and

WHEREAS, fixing “fire borrowing” alone will not address the underlying forest health crisis that is fueling these severe fires or contain the exponential growth in wildfire suppression spending. Any effective solution must also include meaningful policy and legal reforms to increase active management on the 80 million acres identified by the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service as being in need of immediate restoration management, and

WHEREAS, the Resilient Federal Forest Act (H.R. 2647) was passed by the House of Representatives in November 2017 with bipartisan support and would provide many of the long term policy changes needed to improve forest health, promote domestic forest products production as well as a solution to the “fire borrowing” issue. The bill is now awaiting consideration in the U.S. Senate.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Oregon Logging Conference go on record in support of comprehensive legislation that addresses how the U.S. Forest Service budgets for and funds wildfire suppression activities, that eliminates the need for “fire borrowing” and that reforms federal forest management to enable agencies to increase the pace and scale of forest restoration.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the logging conference urge the U.S. Senate and Oregon’s two Senators to support the Resilient Federal Forest Act of 2017 (H.R. 2647) as the model for future legislation to fix the fire funding debacle and reform the management of federal forests to improve their resilience to catastrophic wildfire.