National Archives This is historical material “frozen in time”. The website is no longer updated and links to external websites and some internal pages may not work.

NEED FOR IMPROVED FOREST MANAGEMENT: Improving forest management is critical to addressing the wildfires that are devastating communities and ecosystems across the country.

  • When we fail to manage our Nation’s forests, including through the reduction of dead, diseased, and over-crowded forests, the threat of wildfires is exacerbated.
  • Wildfires are devastating our communities:
    • Data from the National Interagency Fire Center show that 52,000 fires have burned over 8.3 million acres of land across the country in 2018.
    • Over 15,000 residences have been destroyed by wildfire so far this year.
    • Earlier this year, the Mendocino Complex fire in Northern California grew to be the largest in State history with nearly 460,000 acres burned.
    • The Camp Fire currently raging is the deadliest in California’s history.
  • Wildfire suppression efforts by the Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service (Forest Service) and the Department of the Interior (DOI) cost more than $2.9 billion in 2017.
  • Remediation efforts and health impacts will cost millions more.

LEGISLATIVE ACTION: Congress can help prevent further wildfire devastation by passing a Farm Bill that includes robust fire protection and forest management provisions.

  • Currently, the House and Senate are working towards a conference Farm Bill to fund agricultural priorities for the upcoming year.
  • This legislation should ultimately include provisions from the House-passed Farm Bill that will empower Federal agencies to actively manage our forests and aggressively fight wildfires.
  • The House Farm Bill included key provisions to:
    • Renew and expand the authority for the Forest Service and DOI to remove diseased and insect-infested trees from Federal lands.
    • Grant counties and tribes “Good Neighbor Authority,” an existing program that enables States to perform forest management services on National Forest System lands.
  • Further congressional action is needed on a number of fronts, including to expedite:
    • Salvage operations in response to catastrophic events.
    • Management on Forest Service lands surrounding at-risk communities.
  • New language is also needed to remedy the 9th Circuit Court’s decision, which delays forest management by imposing unnecessary procedural requirements.

PROTECTING OUR COMMUNITIES: Passing the Farm Bill will help to build on efforts launched by the Trump Administration to improve forest management.

  • In March, the President signed legislation improving the funding process for the Forest Service and DOI’s wildfire suppression operations.
    • Before this fix, the funding structure had forced the firefighting agencies to take funds from prevention programs to cover the rising costs of responding to wildfires.
  • Last year, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke directed DOI to adopt aggressive practices to prevent and combat the spread of wildfires.
  • The Department of Agriculture recently announced a new outcome-based strategy to reduce fire risk and improve forest conditions.