Cheney Cosponsors Bill to Prevent Future Wildfires
Written by Andrew-Rossi on July 23, 2021
Liz Cheney is the latest representative to co-sponsor a bipartisan bill to give the federal government more power to present devastating forest fires.
The Resilient Federal Forests Act is currently making its way thru the U.S. House of Representatives, now supported by Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney. The bill seeks to restore forest health, increase wildfire resiliency, and support the economic revitalization of rural communities.
According to the language of the bill, more than 80 million acres of national forests “are overgrown, fire-prone and in dire need of active management.” If passed, federal agencies can take more direct, preventative action to avoid wildfires like Wyoming’s Mullen Fire in 2020.
Key provisions of the Resilient Federal Forests Act include:
- Utilizing state-of-the-art science to triage the top 10 percent of high-risk firesheds.
- Simplifying and expediting environmental analyses to reduce costs and planning times of critical forest management projects while maintaining thorough environmental reviews.
- Speeding up essential forest management projects by ending frivolous ligation.
- Giving the Forest Service the necessary tools to restore watersheds, improve wildlife habitat, and protect critical infrastructure and public safety in wildland-urban interfaces.
- Accelerating reviews for salvage operations and reforestation activities to encourage quick reforestation, remove dangerous hazard trees and economically revitalize rural areas.
- Incentivizing collaborative projects of up to 30,000 acres to increase the pace and scale of active management.
- Creating new, innovative authorities that increase tribal management of forestlands.
- Codifying the principles of shared stewardship and permanently reauthorizing the Good Neighbor Authority to ensure states are equal partners in forest management activities.
- Removing cumbersome interagency consultation requirements that delay forest management activities and attract obstructionist litigation.
- Expanding and improving existing authorities to address insect and disease infestations and increase resiliency to wildfires.
In Representative Cheney’s view, the bill will save lives as well as livelihoods, ensuring firefighters aren’t put in harm’s way in these increasingly dangerous incidents.
Cheney issued this statement after co-sponsoring the Resilient Federal Forests Act:
“As wildfires continue to plague our nation, it is important that we work to restore the health of our forests. All across the West, livelihoods are threatened by these fires, and firefighters risk their lives to battle them and protect our communities.
“For years, the federal government has mismanaged our forests, resulting in more catastrophic fires. We must take action now to implement effective forest management. I am proud to co-sponsor this legislation and will continue to work to find solutions to protect Wyoming from the threat of wildfires by ensuring that our forests are properly managed.”
A recent study by the website Filterbuy concluded Wyoming was the 7th state most affected by wildfires in 2020. 828 wildfires burned 339,783 acres in Wyoming – and 85.4% of that lost acreage came from human-caused fires.
Several fires have already burned significant acreages on Wyoming’s federal lands. Both Bighorn and Shoshone National Forests have dealt with multiple forest fires