Congressman Gary Palmer (R-AL) is a co-sponsor of H.R. 2647, The Resilient Federal Forests Act, which passed the House today. The bill addresses the growing economic and environmental threat of catastrophic wildfires to our nation's forests. Congressman Palmer gives the following statement:
"Alabama is home to over 1000 square miles of federal forests. These forests are a vital part of our environment, our recreation, and our industry. Just one catastrophic wildfire can do massive damage to these natural resources, as they have in other states in recent years. Alabama is not immune to these problems, as we have seen in the recent Orange Beach fire that burned 500 acres of forested land. This bill will cut bureaucratic red tape and will help prevent catastrophic wildfires, as well as allow for faster recovery in the event of a wildfire. "
The bill has numerous provisions aimed at preventing wildfires and expediting recovery. The bill expands exclusions from environmental impact reviews and reduces the threat of lawsuits from outside groups, both of which will expedite important forest management activities that prevent wildfires. It also allows swifter wildlife habitat improvement for forest dependent species in the event of a wildfire.
The bill passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support by a vote of 262 to 167. It was introduced by Congressman Bruce Westerman (R-AR), who is the only certified forester in Congress.