Resolution Urging Removal of Governmental Barriers to Active Forest Management, to Reduce Catastrophic Wildfires
Whereas, catastrophic wildfire threatens life and property directly, placing communities and homes at risk of destruction, destroying wildlife habitat, impacting water quality, and emitting large quantities of greenhouse gas emissions; and
Whereas, just a few weeks of wildfires in California in 2020 emitted more greenhouse gas emissions than the power sector does in a year in most states, following a similar dynamic in 2018;
EPA data shows that wildfires emit more than twice as much direct fine particulate matter as all mobile sources in the U.S. in an average year;
Whereas, even a small reduction in wildfire acreage burned each year would dramatically reduce acute and chronic exposure to elevated levels of fine particulate matter for tens of millions of Americans; and
Whereas, of the estimated 538 million acres of U.S. forest land, the Forest Service says 63 million acres of USFS land are the most prone to catastrophic wildfire due to chronically overgrown or dead timber fuel loads, while the Department of Interior has estimated 54 million high-risk acres on the land for which it is responsible;
Whereas, decades-old laws like the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, and Clean Air Act have created unnecessary red tape, meaningful state and federal reforms will lift barriers to increase the pace, scope, and scale of proactive forest management like prescribed burns to reduce economically and environmentally devastating wildfires; and
Whereas, a prescribed burn is conducted in compliance with state laws and regulations and a person certified as a burn boss must review and approve the burn so it includes adequate risk mitigation measures;
Whereas, no person should be liable for any fire suppression or other related costs recoverable for a prescribed burn if specified conditions are met, unless the burn is conducted in a grossly negligent manner; and
Whereas, by providing local experts the tools to perform active forest management, public land managers, landowners, private sector innovators, and public officials can work together to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires.
Therefore, let it be further resolved, that [insert state] legislators will work to remove and reform the legislative and regulatory barriers to active forest management. Meaningful reforms would lead to cleaner air and water, healthier wildlife habitat, reductions in unnecessary risk to life and property, and immense reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.