House Panel Passes Westerman-led Bill on National Forests
Arkansas Online (June 28, 2017)

The House Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday approved the Resilient Federal Forests Act, U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman's bill to overhaul management practices in national forests.

The vote was along party lines; 23 Republicans voted yes and 12 Democrats voted no.

House Resolution 2936 would enable federal officials, when there's a disaster, to quickly implement salvage operations and reforestation efforts, bypassing the sorts of environmental studies that are typically required.

In addition, it would speed up the regulatory process on many other projects and make it harder for environmentalists to block them. Judges would no longer be allowed to issue restraining orders or preliminary injunctions to halt salvage operations or reforestation efforts after large fires or some other "large-scale catastrophic event."

The legislation also addresses shortages in funding for firefighting.

Arkansas' 4th Congressional District, which Westerman represents, contains roughly 2.5 million acres of federal forest.

The Republican from Hot Springs introduced and was able to advance similar legislation in 2015; that bill passed in the House but died in the Senate.

Read the full article here.