tv Washington Journal Tom Martin Discusses Federal Wildfire Management CSPAN September 9, 2017 9:26am-10:04am EDT
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washington journal continues. joined by tomow martin, president and ceo of the american forest foundation and he is here to discuss the role of the federal government in wildlife management. thank you for joining us. guest: thank you kimberly, it is great to be here. host: remind our viewers what the american forest foundation is. guest: we are a conversation -- a conservation group and we work with family and public course cornerstones, helping to reap the benefits of that. host: we have been talking about wildfires. what is the status? guest: at this point in the season it is in the west. earlier in the year it was in the south. 12,005 hundred square miles,
almost 8 million acres have burned already this year. winterthis wonderful where we were sitting there, going all this rain, this will be terrific, maybe the drought is broken. then this hot summer has brought back wildfires with a vengeance. host: the washington post today has more on that. wildfires season, have burned through nine states, california, colorado, idaho, montana, nevada, oregon, utah, washington, and wyoming. that is slightly below the 10 year average for this point in the season. many of the fires quickly grew in size putting the united exceed, over 8to million acres. roughly the size of maryland.
when you think about that that is really a remarkable -- what is the status in terms of trying to contain these fires? the forest service and allies in state and local government work together to try and contain fires that produce an acute list -- risk to people's homes, in other parts of the country they let it burn out. from the a month away peak of the fires. it is still very hot and dry out west. it will take sustained drops in temperatures and rain for us to see a reduction in forest fires. with,we are talking martin, president and ceo of the american forest foundation about the wildfires that a raging in the western part of the country. and the federal response to them. for thisegional lines conversation, if you're in the eastern regions, you can call
8000, if you have been impacted by wildfires in these nine states, we have a line just 2, we hope202)-748-800 that you join this conversation. talk about how the response for this works? federal authorities, local, who responds? guest: there is an emergency management team. depending on where the fire is, how it is burning, and who was available, different agencies will take points. together as a team, they work on the same lines in many cases. it is really that joint effort that happens. that effort is then what is the front line of taking on those fires. host: bethany is on the line from st. louis, missouri. good morning. caller: good morning.
i would like to know, what are emergencyfor evacuations, due to the pollution in the air, with the people that live in these areas? i would like to know how close this stuff is running to saint bernadino, california? guest: saint bernadino has been hit in terms of the smoke. there are fires in southern california and they expect them to burn for some time. that is affecting the air quality. in many parts in the west we are seeing cancellation of soccer games, football games, and advising people to stay inside where the air can be filtered through your internal air handling system. your question is a good one. it isn't just those big flames we see that cause people
problems. it is the air we breathe. in many cases, it is going to be the water quality in our drinking systems that will be affected as the degraded forest puts silt and add into the drinking water systems. it is not just a single punch. it is a series of punches that folks need to look out for. people should look to local advisories for what they are seeing on air quality. host: the point about the smoke is made in an article from "the new york times." he writes, "what has made this so terrifying is the enormous clouds of smoke that has come with the fires and in many places for days on and, the sky has been enveloped, the sun reduced to a hot, distant penny ."
it goes on to point out that people with respiratory problems are being affected by this but it affects everyone. guest: it does affect everybody. one of the things people don't focus on is we think of the west, we think of these great national parks and national forests. the truth is, most of the forests, are owned by families and individuals. if we are going to take on this fire problem and reduce the severity in the future, we have to figure out not just how to manage public lands that are but we have to figure out how to create ways for private landowners to be able to reduce the risk on the land. ownership patterns are chockablock. nextill have private land to state land next to federal land and unless we address all of those we will not have the kind of reduction of fire risk that all of us want. host: thomas calling in from
personal bill, virginia. by say you are impacted these fires. tell us out? 10 years ago i was out there in california. it was october of 2007. i am impacted now as someone who likes the outdoors. i am not seen a lot of change in anything in 10 years since i have been out of it. i was on some of the biggest fires in the history of california. nothing has changed. we still have congress robbing peter to pay paul, more services to big for money, forests that are so thick you cannot walk through them, that need to be thinned, and i know people who and to be against logging are now in favor of it because so much is burning and it is going up into the clouds and destroying watersheds which is
where california gets its water. there needs -- the whole world has changed in the last 20 years between internet and everything else and in the last 100 years between the space-age. we are still using the same types of techniques, how do you log, how do you log poorly, why are we clearing out forests? the san bernardino forest used to put out posters that said a thin forest is a healthy for us. butn't want clearcutting they have to get a grip on this because it is a much bigger impact on the environment. i want to give tom a chance to respond to that. guest: terrific point. let me address two parts of what you said. the way we fund fighting fires is just crazy. what we do is we, congress appropriates dollars to the forest service and when the forest service runs out of dollars they take money from other accounts to fight fires.
that is what they have done now. has been ary, who big advocate of fixing this, he sent a letter to congress late in august, saying i'm going to take money from other accounts. what do you do? which init from things many times prevent future forest fires or reduce the severity of huger forest fires. assistance from private landowners, wildfire planning, taking that money from peter to pay paul, you are exactly right. it is a problem and we hope congress fixes it. there is a bipartisan effort in both houses to fix this problem. we have tried at the last couple of congresses. we have not got it done. we need to get that done this year. it is destructive for the agency. the second point you make is a terrific one as well. todo need to do things reduce fire risk on the landscape and make the landscape more fire resilient.
because we have suppressed fire for so long the buildup of things that can burn on that landscape has just been too great. we have to go in, mimic what nature would have done, and remove some of that. that will take a couple of things. a commitment to staying with landscape scale efforts to reduce fire risk and remove some of that biomass that can burn. secondly, we have got to restore industry to some parts of these areas. withe doing a project denver water authority and the nature conservancy and others outside, taking water quality. acre to reducean the amount of biomass up there so that they are not subject to catastrophic wildfire. that is a key part of denver's drinking water. that forest protects their drinking watershed. it filters the water.
we have to go in and do that but there is not an industry -- there is one major commercial mill left in colorado. it is a couple hundred miles from that area. six the fire funding but also make sure that there is industry that can help a miracle -- that can help ameliorate the cost of going in and providing appropriate areas with reduction of wildfire risk. host: that is the subject of piece.ssociated press" wildfires plaguing much of the west regional controversy over fire management." a senator took to the floor in
to discuss the fires in oregon. he called for smarter policies. guest: i think senator wyden is right. both parties have come to the conclusion that we need to take on reducing fire risk on a landscape level. one of the things it is me, the four service and the national conservation service have begun to focus their efforts on specific areas where reduction of wildfire would do the most good. we need to focus the farm bill programs, at an rcs, overseeing the conservation programs, so that we can make a measurable difference in reducing risk. the secretary is a big fan, the new chief of the poorest -- of the forest service is. we have to get him help. host: we are talking to tom
martin, president and ceo of the american forest foundation. we have regional lines for this segment, (202)-748-8000 if you live in the east, if you live in the mountains, or the pacific, 01, and if you have been impacted by these fires, (202)-748-8002. curious as to whether you have read the book on the new york times bestseller list? it was very educational and it goes over how academia has got manyall wrong, as they do things, because we have a corrupt educational system but everyone should read this book. host: what is the main point you took away, mark? caller: the main point is that this well atle
all, nature, especially our forest. , timbering andh logging it. clearcutting has never been good. it causes erosion, not to mention, it makes a mess of everything. it could be selective which is much better. the first job i ever had was on a tree farm. i can relate to this topic a great deal. i will hang up now and i'm interested to hear your comments. host: tom, you recently wrote in " on this.n, "the hill "collaboration is key if restoration is to happen across forest and landscapes and that to truly see results, the
missing pieces of the puzzle must be included in this collaboration, private and family owned lands." talk about that. guest: that is key to dealing with this. even in california where you think it is all public land and there is 100 million dead trees out there. unless we figure out how to have family landowners the a part of reducing wildfire risk, some of the key thinking watersheds in california continue to be at risk. working across boundaries, it is making sure we measure impact and it is making sure in the new farm bill that programs like the environmental quality improvement program continue to help family landowners defray the cost or some of the cost of reducing wildfire risk for all of us. it is certainly a big issue but we are about to take up taxes. what do taxes have to do with the wildfires, right?
i will tell you, if you are a family landowner and you have been growing your trees for 60 years and a fire comes through and wipes them out, you can deduct only the cost that you can show you incurred to plant those trees and to tend to them. justars of growth and it evaporated with the smoke that blew out after the fire. then you have to replant, you have to salvage what you have, very costly kinds of things. we need to make sure that that casualty loss provision is fixed for family landowners. we need to make sure the costs of replanting trees after a harvest, that those kinds of things are dealt with as well as and continue to be there. congress has an opportunity even as they are talking about tax reform to help us ensure that recovery of wildfires happens and that the investments to begin to forests more resilient against wildfire are expressed
in the tax code. laura is calling in from antelope, california. impacted by these fires. caller: i have a different perspective. i am an ultra runner. i run 100 mile foot races through forests that have been terribly impacted by the drought and the fires. mishmash of state, federal codes, bureau land management, protected federal , plus the private ownerships of the properties in the foothills, auburn, along the western state trail, in the last five years we had devastated the majority of the trails. and the dead trees, at least 10 receipt, deep in the forest. it isn't just about logging. takeu log, clear-cut, or chunks out, all we have are smaller, weaker trees. drought, dark beatles, this is
so complicated. the on the obvious fixes, someone has got to bring everyone to the table and not just small for a street land owners. folks that just like to have rural property, that the trees came with the property but they are not maintaining them. they aren't trimming them, not cleaning the piles of the pine needles underneath. host: laura, i want to give tom a chance to respond. guest: it is a terrific point. there is a mosaic of ownerships in forest land and we have to figure out how to deal across those boundaries. senses, forest products industry can play a role in reducing fire risk and improving the overall vitality of these forests. if we go out and thin and take out weaker trees we reduce the number of trees on an acre, that
makes that acre of forest land more resilient against bugs and fire. drought.lient against we need to be thoughtful about how we do it and there are some places like national parks and wilderness areas we should never touch. but in places where you can see that we can reduce fire risk and improve overall forest health, we should be thinking about all the tools we had to fight that. natural tools and mechanical tools that can replace what we have avoided through fire suppression. the natural mimicking of reducing some of the competing trees on those acres. playf that has a role to and to your point, we have to work across boundaries and focus dollars so that we can see real impact in our investments. host: sean is on the line from providence, rhode island. good morning. caller: good morning, thank you to c-span.
something that seems to be omitted from the discussion is the new director of the epa whose philosophy, going along with the republicans, is to do away with all the regulation, concepts of restriction that obama or anyone with a brain has introduced. what is the larger vision you have about not just fire control but the control of storms, floods, all the other factors that are part of the environment that are critical in terms of the society functioning? guest: terrific point. forests are a cornerstone of healthy environments. carbon emissions, half of americans get their drinking water off of forest it landscape. endangered species make their lives on these lands and a
quarter of a million of americans own woods. it is critically important. it is a mosaic of ownership and we need to think about a set of tools that works for everybody. all of those benefits for us over time. from my perspective i think we for to have incentives private landowners to continue to manage their land so that we get those benefits. we need to make sure that public landowners are working across boundaries with state, federal together and talking to the private landowners together about what they can do. secretary perdue supports that. he has a secretary of the department of agriculture that owns woodlands and uses prescribed fire on his woodlands to improve them. the new chief of the poorest service is very much in favor -- the new chief of the forest
service is very much in favor of these kinds of things. creating a healthy environment is maintained, thinking about public and private lands, making sure we have the impact we want in reducing fire risk and creating all these benefits. host: we are all talking about the federal response to the western wildfires with tom martin of the american forest foundation. if you are in the eastern or central time zones, (202)-748- 8000, mountain and pacific, , if you are01 impacted by these wildfires, (202)-748-8002. journal" reports some want congress to treat this as emergency relief. harvey relief was signed yesterday. in oregon, there are record fires. local lawmakers are renewing
calls r longerm solutis and funding. ae two senators have led 2013 for apush since and two legislative fire borrowing. this directs money away from restoration and maintenance to fight fires. talk about fire borrowing and what you would like to see happen with that policy? guest: what we have seen in recent years is that wildfires are more intense and the season is lasting longer. the way congress is budgeted for wildfire fighting is they take part from past years. the dollars are always lagging. you see that again this year. secretary perdue, sent congress a note in august, i will have to fire borrow $300 million. some of that is stuff is things
that would make more resilience for future fires. you see those impacts. there is one other impact. this is something the forest service really worries about. they want to reduce fires in the west. but they go in they say to their supervisors, i want you to begin to plan this fiscal year on how we will reduce fire risk. ,hey dutifully go off and plan and then sometime midyear they go, it looks like it will be a bad fire season. you cannot spend those dollars right now because we may need to borrow them later. these folks are supposed to be working together on how to reduce future fire risk, they have to sit on their hands for a while and wait to see what happens with those dollars. i really hope that this is the year congress does fund the fire harvey,treats it like
irma, or other disasters. the really big fires ought to come out of the disaster funds. it is a disaster of the same magnitude, of the same impact. we need to fix the problem. host: betty is in the region, she is calling from oregon so she is impacted by these fires. hi, betty. caller: good morning, thanks for c-span. it is very smoky here. time, what i can't see is why, i lived in montana for 50 years. the pine beetles were just terrible. i came through there seven years where i had written horseback and there was one live tree where 50,000 trees that are beetle eaten and i don't
understand why over the years they have not contacted, did something with the disease in them instead of talking about all the other stuff. then also, the kids that work with the firefighters, you're talking about the money, yes my family had to wait six months to get paid at one time. that is what i'm concerned about. thank you for listening to me. guest: i sure understand that. there are 26,000 peoples out fighting those fires right now and we have lost the lives of nine people this year. it is an incredible tragedy. the only way to reduce the risk is get ahead of it. point, beetlesnt in that part of the country, it is an endemic species. winters are shorter and not as cold and they have been spreading and killing millions
and millions and millions of trees. we now estimate they are something over 6 billion dead trees in the west of this country. why is that important? you lose the tree but secondly, for firefighters. a dead tree behaves differently than a live tree, they are more dangerous, more unpredictable. in firee to accommodate lines enough safety distance from dead trees/ . thatad of doing something may make sense from a topographical point of view they have had to back away from the trees. the way to reduce risk against tests and pathogens turns out to be pretty close to the way you reduce risk of catastrophic wildfire. you reduce the number of trees on an acre of land and it is more resilient against the beetle, catastrophic wildfire, drought. senatoris week, montana
-- a montana senator talked on the floor. let's take a look. [video clip] wildfires is impossible but we can do much more to lessen the severity and severalf these fires di million acres in moana are at high risk for wildfire. 5 million acres have been designated for accelerated forest management due to the insect management. we are talking about dead trees and since 1990, our state, montana, has lost over 40% of its for street workforce and two thirds of its mills. the remaining mills we have are not running around the clock, multiple shifts, which they could do except for the fact that they cannot get enough logs.
we are bringing in logs from out of state and even out of the country to our mills in montana to keep them going. host: what is your reaction to that? guest: the point the senator is making is a good one. we have to figure out how to use the forest products industry to help us defray the risk of fire on the landscape. in montana we are working very closely with the division of forestry, the u.s. forest service and the national conservation service to do just that. it is a mosaic. some of it is public land and a lot of it is private. how do we make sure that entire landscape has the reduction of pests that that he talking about as well as the wildfire that the senator is talking about? host: a call from rita in wyoming. how are you doing there?
caller: it is very smoky and cloudy here. my question is, do you know how is it a natural cause of the fires or a human cause of the fires? have markers is a high risk or no camping, some of the people, i don't know if they are not educated to put out fires, i was wondering if you statistics if it is human fire or caused by lightning and that?like or maybe we need to have education to people who come in to show them how to take care of this? we get here and in wyoming it is ridiculous because it is not only affecting us but it is affecting our wildlife in wyoming. is a great point and it has a big impact on the wildlife. this year like other years, it is a mix of human caused and
lightning strik that are naturally happening in the environment. what we can hopefully impact is creating a more fire resilient landscape on private and public lands so that when these things occur, no matter why they occur, fire comes in at a natural level. it does a good thing. instead of these catastrophic wildfires that destroy wildlife. that mean we take less carbon out of the air, they mean that water is less clean, we need to reduce that catastrophic wildfire risk. we need a resilient landscape, private and public lands, there will always be wildfires. the senator made that point. we can reduce the impact we have on the things we love about the forest. have a minute left
and i want to get tracy in from oregon, also impacted by the fires. caller: thank you for taking my call. i am very concerned about the wildfires here. they have grown and grown and grown throughout the year. oregon, especially where i live, we live in a valley. the air pollution from these fires is terrible. an economy here and even though i don't believe in clearcutting or something like that, the environment -- the environmentalists have taken over and it has destroyed our economy but in the end, with the accumulated effect of not taking care of our forests, the money we could of been making, it could've been to a compromise,
our forests are now being destroyed. our forests are now being destroyed. host: i want to give tom martin the last three months to respond. guest: we believe very much in the conservation of our forests, keeping forests as forests. part of that is reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfires so we do not lose forests all at once. some of that means using mechanical planning to go in and clear in some areas. should not do it in national parks or wilderness areas. we can take on this issue. we can win. it is going to take consistent, long-term commitment. host: tom martin, president and ceo of the american forest foundation. fu can find them online at am orest foundation. that is all for today's "washington journal." we will be back tomorrow at 7:00 a.m. eastern.
have a great day. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] ♪ here is a look at our schedule on c-span. starting now, a discussion on the u.s. alliance with south korea in the recent north korean nuclear threat. remarks from u.s. ambassador to the united nations nikki haley on the iranian nuclear program. after that, it's a insurance commissioners discuss the recommendations to stabilize individual health insurance markets. finally, a house hearing on social security disability benefits and claims processing. monday march the 16th anniversary of september 11.
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