Representative Mike Garcia introduced the Protecting and Restoring Our Trees by Enhancing Conservation and Treatments, or PROTECT, Act to improve forest management and reduce wildfires.
The act would help improve forest management by allowing more flexibility for federal land managers to utilize forest management methods like prescribed burns in an effort to reduce risk of wildfires across the country.
“Decades of forest mismanagement have left our federal forests to become overstocked tinderboxes waiting to burn and have resulted in the recent increase in catastrophic wildfires in California and across the West. I’m proud to introduce The PROTECT Act, which would streamline our ability to utilize active forest management tools and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires. It is past time to listen to the science and implement active forest management tools that will protect our communities and the environment,” said Rep. Garcia.
Garcia’s bill removes burdensome regulations to allow for active forest management, which is primarily through brush clearing and prescribed burns. Additionally, a recent Stanford study found that utilizing prescribed burns to reduce forest fuels could better protect communities from deadly wildfires.
The PROTECT Act is co-sponsored by House Natural Resources Republican Leader Bruce Westerman (R-AR), House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry Republican Leader Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Western Congressional Caucus Chairman Dan Newhouse (R-WA), House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife Republican Leader Cliff Bentz (R-OR), Representatives Devin Nunes (R-CA), Jay Obernolte (R-CA), Dusty Johnson (R-SD), Matt Rosendale (R-MT).
The PROTECT Act would authorize a 10,000 acre categorical exclusion under NEPA to address insects and disease, reduce hazardous fuels loads, protect municipal water sources and increase water yield, improve critical habitat and facilitate native species restoration, and remove dead or dying trees. The legislation would incentivize collaboration by allowing categorical exclusions of up to 30,000 acres for collaborative projects.
Garcia’s legislation is endorsed by the Federal Forest Resource Coalition, Missouri Forest Products Association, Colorado Timber Industry Association, Associated California Loggers, Louisiana Forestry Association, Minnesota Forest Industries, American Forest Resource Council, Southeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association, Michigan Forest Products Council, Black Hills Forest Resource Association, Intermountain Forest Association, Associated Contract Loggers & Truckers of Minnesota, American Loggers Council, Montana Wood Products Association, Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association, Associated Logging Contractors—Idaho, Associated Oregon Loggers, American Forest & Paper Association, American Walnut Manufacturers Association, and the Hardwood Federation.