WASHINGTON – Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona reintroduced a bill that would help reduce excessive fuel loads on federal lands through livestock grazing and timber thinning.
The Public Lands Council, National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the Arizona Cattle Growers' Association have thrown their support behind the Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention Act (HR1345). The bill aims to expedite the process of reducing wildfire hazards by:
• streamlining analyses performed under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA);
• expediting fuels-reduction activities such as livestock grazing and timber thinning; and
• allowing for hazardous fuels-reduction projects to go forward under existing emergency provisions of the Endangered Species Act when threatened or endangered species are at risk.
The bill adds to previous legislation by including contract stewardship and good neighbor authority measures, which would pave the way for completion of forest management projects through public-private partnerships and cooperation with state governments.
“Last year, more than 9 million acres were burned in one of the worst fire seasons this country has seen in the last few decades. In that scenario, everyone bears the burden of habitat loss — ranchers, western communities, wildlife and the taxpayer, to name a few,” said Brice Lee, PLC president. “We hope that Congress acts swiftly and moves forward with passing this legislation, so that ranchers and entire communities do not remain vulnerable during what may be another devastating fire season this year.”