STATUS UPDATE: Reducing Wildfires and Smoke

News from Representative Walden

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We are making progress to clean up our forests and reduce the threat of wildfire and smoke to our communities. Recently, I caught up with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to discuss the progress the Trump Administration is making to implement the new forest management tools we passed into law in 2018. I wanted to pass along the good news he shared.   

Thanks to our efforts, the Forest Service nationally has increased the area treated to prevent wildfires by 20 percent and is producing more timber harvest than the federal government has in more than 20 years. This is good news for forested communities where timber supply supports the local economy and revenue from federal timber sales supports vital essential services such as roads and schools.

The time it takes to plan a forest management project has long hampered how much work gets done. The Forest Service once told me that as much as 75 percent of their forest management budget goes into analysis and planning for forest management projects. The Secretary shared some welcome news there as well: they’ve reduced the time needed for much of this planning by 65 percent. Streamlining these processes saves money and enables the agency to get more work done in the woods overall, while still protecting the environment.  

It is great to see the Trump Administration taking advantage of the tools I helped write and pass into law in 2018. That effort was the most significant reform to federal forest policy since we passed the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA) over a decade earlier. We expanded upon HFRA to give forest managers more tools to combat the threat of wildfire in our communities. Across the country they are being put to use to improve the health of our forests and our communities.

The progress we’ve made so far is welcome news. However, with 80 million acres of federal forest lands still in need of thinning and other work to reduce the wildfire threat, we have a lot more work to do. That’s why in 2019 I introduced the bipartisan Resilient Federal Forests Act with my colleagues to further build on our successful work and further increase how much work we can get done to create healthier forests and healthier communities. I’ll be sure to keep you up to date as those efforts continue.

It is an honor to represent you in the U.S. Congress. Best regards, Greg Walden
U.S. Representative
Oregon’s Second District Please feel free to sign up for my E-Newsletter, like me on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter and Instagram if you have not already done so.

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