Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue applauded the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017 (H.R. 2936) as an important step toward better management of national forests. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Bruce Westerman (AR-04), seeks to implement proactive management standards for forests and paves the way for a solution to the problem of U.S. Forest Service funding. In this record wildfire season, Secretary Perdue has repeatedly called for a fix to the “fire borrowing” problem, which siphons off forest management dollars to pay for firefighting. This year, the Forest Service has spent in excess of $2.5 billion fighting wildfires.
Perdue issued the following statement:
“Proper, proactive management of our national forests is essential so that we may preserve them as functional, productive forests that support the environment, economic development, and tourism. At the same time, we must care for our forests in a manner which mitigates the severity of the inevitable wildfires. To that point, this legislation helps facilitate the conversation about Forest Service funding, which continues to be a problem as we face escalating costs in battling wildfires. For too long, the Forest Service has had to borrow from prevention programs in order to fight fires, meaning that we risk leaving a heavy fuel load in the forests for future fires to burn. As the legislative process continues, I look forward to working with Congress as we all seek a comprehensive solution to put America’s forest back to work again.”