U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today issued the following statement after the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) held a full committee hearing on a discussion draft of the Wildfire Prevention and Mitigation Act of 2017, which was unveiled this week. The bill includes provisions drafted by Thune and Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), chairman of the EPW Committee, Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) The Thune-authored provisions were originally introduced in August 2017 as part of the Forest Management Improvement Act of 2017 (S. 1731). Thune recently participated in a separate EPW hearing to discuss his forestry proposals.
“After nearly a quarter century of very-limited-to-hands-off forest management, federal forest fire suppression costs have continued to grow,” said Thune. “We must take immediate steps to improve the health of our nation’s forestland and be more aggressive and proactive in forest management. I believe this legislation offers several common-sense solutions that would help solve our problem of declining forest health by allowing land management professionals to use more 21st Century land management techniques. Efficient and effective land management makes forests more resilient and better able to withstand fire, pests, and diseases.”
Thune’s forestry management provisions that call for increasing categorical exclusions, expediting environmental reviews, simplifying Good Neighbor Authority, improving stewardship contracting, and providing litigation relief are included in the Wildfire Prevention and Mitigation Act of 2017.