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Chairman Roberts Introduces Emergency Wildfire Legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today introduced the Emergency Wildfire and Forest Management Act of 2016. 

“With this legislation, we are doing the specific and timely work of our committee, especially with fire season ahead of us,” said Chairman Roberts. “Wildfires have devastated vast landscapes and communities throughout the U.S., and it’s time Congress not only address the Forest Service budget to pay for wildfire suppression but also provide the agency with some practical and common sense tools needed to prevent these fires.”

The legislation would reduce administrative burdens and provide greater efficiencies for collaborative forest management activities through a variety of authorities including: 

  • Expediting environmental analysis for forest management activities;
  • Encouraging cross boundary management of federal, state, and private forested land;
  • Promoting large scale landscape forest management projects on federal land; and
  • Streamlining efficiencies for environmental review, analysis, and compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act.                                                    

The Emergency Wildfire and Forest Management Act introduced today is similar to H.R. 2647, the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015, which passed the House of Representatives and was referred to the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee. The bill contains several provisions, including a wildfire funding mechanism to indicate the broader discussion occurring among relevant Committees.