"Emergency" gives cover for off-target wildfire bill

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Like Western wildfires themselves, bad wildfire legislation seems to flare up seasonally.

The latest really bad bill carries many of the marks of flawed legislation that has preceded it over the years. It threatens to make wildfire risk and hazard much worse while at the same time weakening existing environmental protections— all using the existence of an emergency as cover.

The Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act (EWPSA) is S. 4431 and its companion H.R. 7978.

Perhaps its worst provision would give the U.S. Forest Service legal authority to conduct post-fire salvage logging operations on areas as large as 10,000 acres with only cursory environmental analysis, weakened opportunity for judicial challenge, no compliance with local forest plans, and more.

Tell your U.S. senators and representative to oppose this wrongheaded and counterproductive legislation immediately.

Salvage logging—the removal of trees from a fire-affected area—is arguably the worst forest practice in use today, as it heavily damages soils and forest recovery while providing no or little fire-prevention benefit.

The bills contain some good ideas—such as allowing FEMA hazard-mitigation funds to be used to bury power lines, and encouraging home-hardening upgrades for homeowners in fire-prone areas. But there is no need to pair good ideas with bad ones that will exacerbate fire danger and damage to ecosystems and property.

EWPSA would expedite the construction of 1000-foot-wide backcountry "fuel breaks" of up to 3000 acres in size at a time when many western residents understand that embers frequently loft across much greater distances to spread fire. To make matters worse, EWPSA would override endangered species, water-quality, and other protections at a time when they are needed most.

Tell your legislators to immediately oppose or withdraw their support from EWPSA—and draw up legislation that actually protects properties and communities as well as the environment.

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For the forests,

Paul Hughes
Executive Director
Forests Forever

Your contribution today will help California's forests thrive!



Forests Forever:
Their Ecology, Restoration, and Protection
John J. Berger

from Forests Forever Foundation
and the Center for American Places