McMorris Rodgers, Newhouse, 68 cosponsors introduce Resilient Federal Forests Act

The bipartisan Resilient Federal Forests Act, introduced on July 22 by U.S. Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA) along with 68 other cosponsors, would address the health of American forests and prevent catastrophic wildfires. 

“The devastating wildfires we’re seeing across eastern Washington right now underscore the need for proactive forest management to prevent widespread damage to our communities,” Rep. McMorris Rodgers said. “We cannot allow decades of overregulation and legal charades to stall forest management efforts any longer.” 

Reps. McMorris Rodgers and Newhouse joined bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR), who serves as ranking member of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, to introduce H.R. 4614. The legislation would expedite environmental analysis, reduce lawsuits and increase the pace and scale of critical forest restoration projects, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. McMorris Rodgers’ staff. 

“We no longer have time for conversations about how we can prevent these catastrophic wildfires — we must act,” said Rep. Newhouse. “We know that wildfire prevention goes hand-in-hand with restoring healthy and resilient federal forests, and I’m proud to cosponsor Ranking Member Westerman’s Resilient Federal Forests Act because this is the action we need.”

More than 80 million acres of national forests are overgrown, fire-prone and in need of active management, according to the lawmakers.

“Already this year, over a million acres have burned across the West,” Rep. Newhouse said. “In my home state of Washington, more acres have burned to date than in all of 2020.”

If enacted, H.R. 4614 also would utilize state-of-the-art science to triage the top 10 percent of high-risk firesheds; provide the Forest Service the necessary tools to restore watersheds, improve wildlife habitat and protect critical infrastructure and public safety in wildland-urban interfaces; and accelerate reviews for salvage operations and reforestation activities to encourage quick reforestation, remove dangerous hazard trees, and economically revitalize rural areas, among other provisions.

“It’s time to cut through the red tape, give the Forest Service the tools they need to better manage our forests, and take the necessary steps to protect our communities from devastating wildfires,” said Rep. McMorris Rodgers.