Washington Report

Advocacy Updates from Washington D.C.

House Passes Healthy Forests Bill

The House voted 262-167 to approve Arkansas Republican Rep. Bruce Westerman's "Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015," which will improve forest health and resilience to wildfires by expediting logging sales on national forestland and limiting environmental lawsuits that slow restoration projects.

NAR supported this legislation because of the increasing threat of wildfires to property adjacent to federal forested areas. NAR will encourage the Senate to take up this legislation as soon as possible.

The bill also would authorize the president to establish "a specific account" for the suppression of wildfires. This section is designed to end so-called fire borrowing, in which the Forest Service has to borrow from other programs, particularly those that fund forest health initiatives, to fight wildfires.

The bill would allow the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to perform shorter National Environmental Policy Act reviews for logging projects that are designed to reduce wildfire risks, increase forest resilience to insects and disease, protect water supplies or enhance habitat for at-risk species.

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