Yesterday, Congressman Tom McClintock and Congressman Doug LaMalfa introduced legislation directing the U.S. Forest Service to immediately suppress wildfires on National Forest System lands and put an end to the policy of letting fires burn.
“This ‘let burn’ policy of federal land managers began in 1972, during the height of the radical environmental movement,” McClintock said. “Essentially, it holds that ‘fire is our friend.’ It stems from the premise that fire is nature’s way of cleaning up forests and that active suppression of fires leads to a build-up of excess fuels. As we have tragically witnessed firsthand, it is dangerous nonsense to ‘monitor’ incipient fires in today’s forest tinderbox. The U.S. Forest Service was formed to remove excess growth before it can burn and to preserve our forests in a healthy condition from generation to generation. It’s time they did.”
“The days of ‘monitoring’ fires must end – Northern California is burning up at a record rate.,” LaMalfa said. “The Forest Service’s monitoring policy and ‘watch and wait’ has allowed multiple catastrophic fires to unnecessarily escalate and devastate our wildlands and rural towns. In 24 hours, what starts out as a small blaze can expand to consume thousands of homes, municipal facilities, and businesses. Drought stricken, unmanaged, overgrown forests are a ticking timebomb for another massive fire. In addition to aggressive initial attacks on fires, we must properly manage our forests by thinning near towns and infrastructure, clear a wider buffer zone around power lines, as well as use roads as firebreaks. Our forests are overgrown, the long-term solution is to return to proper management and aggressively thin them. Why is America the number two importer of wood while our own forests burn to the ground — causing untold damage to families, pollution that chokes half the country and destroys the environment?”
McClintock and LaMalfa also sent a letter to Chief of the U.S. Forest Service Randy Moore urging him to implement these policies for the upcoming wildfire season.