SAF Supports Bipartisan Wildfire and Forest Management Bill 

September 24, 2020

Ahead of a hearing at the US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, SAF expressed its support for the bipartisan “Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act of 2020" introduced by Senators Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Steve Daines (R-MT). 

SAF joined partner organizations and allies from across the forestry and natural resources community to applaud these efforts and urge swift passage of solutions like these designed to address wildfire mitigation and forest management reform. 

“Foresters and natural resource managers can and will use every tool at their disposal to proactively address fire-prone landscapes. In doing so, they provide fire managers more options to address new fires and maintain their safety. SAF is proud to support this crucial piece of legislation, which also invests in workforce development, accelerates post-fire restoration efforts, and creates new markets for biomass. These measures will help make our forests more resilient, give our wildland firefighters more suppression options, create safer communities, and develop new generations of forest stewards.” - Terry Baker, CEO, Society of American Foresters

Click here to read the full press release from Senator Daines. 

The legislation would:

  • Provide new authority for the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to work collaboratively with state partners in the West to implement wildfire mitigation projects. Projects are restricted to areas most in need of restorative forest management.

  • Allow disaster mitigation and preparedness funding to be used to reduce the wildfire risk posed by utility lines and expedite permitting for the installation of wildfire detection equipment (such as sensors, cameras, and other relevant equipment) and expand the use of satellite data to assist wildfire response.

  • Create a program to incentivize the collection of woody biomass and help expand processing facilities to make biomass more economically viable.

  • Create a forest workforce development program to train a new generation of workers to help address wildfire and forest health.

  • Require the establishment of a fire center in the Western United States to train new firefighters and forestry professionals on the beneficial uses of prescribed fires, a far more cost-effective method of stopping fires than mechanical thinning or firefighting.

  • Lift the current export ban on unprocessed timber from federal lands in the west for trees that are dead or dying, or if there is no demand in the United States.  California currently has nearly 150 million dead and dying trees on thousands of acres that are at risk of wildfire.

  • Expand the Energy Department’s weatherization program to allow for the retrofit of homes to make them more resilient to wildfire through the use of fire-resistant building materials and other methods.

  • Establish a new grant program to assist critical facilities like hospitals and police stations become more energy efficient and better adapted to function during power shutoffs. The new program would also provide funding for the expanded use of distributed energy infrastructure, including microgrids.

Learn more in this Section-by-Section from Senator Daines.