Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Healthy Forest Management and Wildfire Prevention Act

Center Supports Congressman Scott Tipton's Legislation

Scott Tipton
Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO) is pushing the Healthy Forest Management and Wildfire Prevention Act. The bill would streamline hazardous fuels reduction projects.  The bill asks for no additional money and places no requirement on state and local officials to act. It also enables governors and county commissioners to designate high-risk areas and develop emergency hazardous fuels reduction projects on federal land.
Wildfires burned 9.3 million acres in 2012, while the U.S. Forest Service only harvested approximately 200,000 acres of timber. The cost of proactive healthy forest management is far less than the cost of wildfire suppression and cleaning up the aftermath.

Representative Scott Tipton believes the U.S. Forest Service could spend less fighting wildfires if it spent more preventing them. In 2012, the Forest Service spent $1.77 billion fighting wildfires, and $296 million removing the fuels that make Western Colorado so vulnerable.  According to Tipton:
“If we proactively manage our forests we can remove dead trees and re-forest areas with healthy trees that will once again absorb carbon, restore our environment to a healthy state, and protect people and communities from catastrophic wildfire.”
Proactive forest management can help prevent catastrophic wildfires.  In addition to tragically taking lives and destroying property, wildfires cause significant damage to the environment including air quality, habitats and watersheds.
According to NASA, carbon dioxide emissions from wildfires have increased 240 percent across the West since the 1980s.  Carbon emissions from wildfires have grown from an average of 8.8 million tons per year from 1984 to 1995, to more than 22 million tons from 1996 to 2008.
In 2006, wildfires in Idaho produced 1.6 times more CO2 than all other fossil fuel sources. In 2006 wildfire emissions accounted for 47 and 42 percent of CO2 emissions in Montana and Washington respectively.
Wildfire CO2 emissions are expected to increase by 50 percent by 2050, according to a report from researchers with the Forest Service, Auburn University and George Mason University.  (Vail Daily, 7/22/2013)

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