tv Forest Management and Wildfires CSPAN October 1, 2017 2:34am-4:22am EDT
hitler's. the president was very aware of the isolationist mood of the country. he was very cautious. he did not want to get involved if he could help it. most people in washington were convinced that it would be easily defeated. how can it survive when no other european country had? >> former u.s. secretary of state madeleine albright on world war ii politics and diplomacy. ," lynnon "in depth olson. book aboutcent britain, occupied europe, and the brotherhood. during a live conversation we will take your calls, tweets, and facebook questions.
[gavel pound] >> good morning. we call this hearing to order. so far in 2017, as all the guests of the panel know in 2017, fires have burned oregon 8 million acres in the united states. we need to find solutions to address this threat to communities and wildlife. today the committee is going to hear testimony on three bills related to catastrophic wildfires burning across the west. introducedes has senate 605 relief for forest management projects which would address conflict in circuit court decisions and prevent close the ways in the forest management as a result of duplicative consultation requirements.
the committee will hear testimony on the bill as 1417 the habitat conservation restoration act of 2017 in the opinion in juniper trees that are invasive species that we do need to wildfires had compromised habitat across the west. we also have the senate bill, 1731 the forest management improvement act of 2017, which provides the forest service with a series of tools to addressthe ever-growing wildfire threats filled with dead and dying trees. each of these addresses a different but important part of the forest holding fire prevention. decades of fire suppression in rapid decline in active management have lead to overly dead forests susceptible to disease and outbreaks. it leaves dead trees which are
poor habitat for iconic species with other wildlife that depend on the ecosystems. the trees affect watersheds as well as there are no longer leaves or needles to hold the snow to build winter snowpack. in addition, these are much more prone to catastrophic fires. these fast-moving fires cause damage to the ecosystem and surrounding communities. they are the obvious impacts these fires. showing bambier running away from a wildfire with wildlife that is burned, homes and habitat loss and smoke that rose into theair. smoke travels for miles and as this poster shows a woman and her child walking with masks over their faces because ofthe impact of the smoke from the fire.
it's not uncommon to see people wearing face masks, coughing, sneezing and watery eyes leads people to ask, is it damaging my health? but on september 11, the national public radio article highlighted these concerns and i will submit a copy for the record. in 2017 alone, the schools in oregon, montana and florida canceled classes keep children inside and awayfrom the smoke. while smoke and ash dispersed relatively quickly other impacts remain for years to come. after catastrophic fires extinguished by brave wildfire were early snow, the forest ecosystems lose their topsoil and sterilized disloyal. without a strong system to hold it back, the landscapes experienced massiveerosion. dirt, sand and others quickly
accumulate increase in quality municipal water systems. sediment levels raise water temperature andcan also be a cause of widespread fish kills. what's most egregious isthe land managers could mitigate a significant portion of the risks. fire is a historically part of the ecosystem, both of these largeunmatchable catastrophic wildfires are not. in order to address thethreat, we need to actively manage forests with access deadwood. large stands of dead trees need to be removed in a timely fashion so we are not facing another 8 million acres of burned land. we must act quickly to address the risk to human health, infrastructure and valuable ecosystems. millions of acres of federal land, forest land andby your need of air need of restoration and other attention. last year the service estimated up to 100 million acres are at a risk ofwildfire.
today we will hear about the that address bureaucratic processes that the way the proactive prevention and ecosystem management that can save lives, property and protect aforest diverse wildlife. before we move to the sponsors and cosponsors of the bill for the remarks i will turn to the ranking member for his remark. >> thank you for putting us all off altogether. welcome to our colleague. delighted to be holding this for all of us whether we are from the great northwest with themthe little state on the east coast. increasingly hurricanes catastrophic and these disasters disrupt people's lives from home, safety and likelihoods and wildfires and hurricanes are in peril wildlife trade i agree with the government accountability office and climate change contributes to making these disasters more severe. they are becoming more common and destructive and more
expensive with each passing year. we are seeing that across those southwest to the devastation in puerto rico and the iowans in the last week. in the federal budget deficit for this year climbs past $700 billion is headed higher among other things we need to ensure that we help reduce the risk of future disasters and plan for the response cost. when it comes to planning for severe weather events, and outspoken prevention is worthy of the cure. today i look forward to hearing from our colleagues in the witnesses as to how best manage this. we need to make sure we are taking appropriate steps to prevent wildfires from occurring.
we must also make sure we have the tools we need to combat the faster, longer, in more frequent wildfires. this should not unduly impede our response to these unprecedented wildfires. i don't believe wildfires are to blame. many factors including homes and the other departments near forest lands along with climate change and other factors. we need to be careful about making sweeping changes. existingrly when parties and adequate funding must help. adopt proactiv forest management and firefighting activities. -- budgetraints
constraints may also help mitigate risks. 1990 five, only 16% of the u.s. for service budget was dedicated to fire suppression. 16% in 1995. more than half of the annual budget, over half fighting fires. according to secretary perdue, firefighting activities will likely consume two thirds of the force fighting -- forest firefighting budget. i look forward to consensus from the congress. in closing i ask to enter several letters into the record make and again i think all of
our colleagues for joining us today. >> we're fortunate to have others join us today. i look forward to your comments and statements. i know you have busy schedules. once you have had time to share information about your bill, i welcome you to get to the remainder of your schedule. senator hatch, we will start with you. >> tonight i would like to speak conservation the and restoration act. this legislation was stream land for important vegetation to conserve the habitat of sage has thed mule deer that benefit of producing fuel for catastrophic wildfires. the west, especially in our home state of utah and new
mexico and elsewhere, wildlife populations are suffering from of dangerous encroachment juniper trees. this burgeoning forest increases the risk of wildfire, threatening homes, property, and human lives because sage grass sameule deer share certain habitats. we were working together to create a solution to support these iconic western species. as the fish and wildlife service sage agree, it destroys grouse habitat and provides cover for predators. --ee removal helps curtail 20 removal helps --
longife managers have worked. increases water availability which improves wildlife carrying capacity and reduces the risk and benefits the big game populations particularly. although tree expansion is a process normally controlled by wildfire, we expansion has been allowed to go unchecked. as a result, trees have spread to areas that have not historically occupied. this is no longer a viable option for combating forest expansion, effective alternatives are needed to limit the damage caused by invasive trees. fortunately, federal restoration has proved beneficial in
replicating the benefits of wildfire a while avoiding its associated damages to habitat, or humanproperty, neighbors. my legislation helps build on this by removing lengthy processes for vegetation management projects. the effect of sagebrush echo systems. targeted with removal would seem to be a common sense priority but senator heinrich and i found responsible management efforts areederal agencies frequently delayed by needless bureaucratic impediments. so to help safeguard and reinvigorate sage grass and mule deer habitats, we have agreed to reinvigorate by giving the bureau of land management expanded tools to aid its sage grass restoration efforts. this is a bipartisan effort and
a diverse group has come up in reasonablethe measures contemplated in this bill. i am confident the passage of this legislation will foster ecological health and promote sustainable populations that habitat. sage grass it will also reduce the risk of wildfire.ic in accomplishing the goal of how ascan benefit we can rely clearic while sending a message that we are serious about economic stewardship. it is critical we get this legislation signed into law. every shape the opportunity today to speak to americans about this bill and i want to
think the chairman and members i ame committee with whom working in moving this bill forward and i just appreciate theseportunity to make comments. >> thank you mr. chairman, carper, imber, mr. for shape the opportunity to thisduce and talk about bill. we have all heard. have heard about this in 1864 when the citizens of ancient rome watched helplessly as their city burn. we have a familiar scene. since january 1 this share through today americans have watched 39,000 fires burn more than 8.4 million acres of forest land. has burned an average of 6.9
million acres every year but after nearly a quarter century firends-off management, suppression costs have grown, as ranking member carper pointed out. 16% of the budget in 1995 up to -- 2015.15 we must take immediate steps to improve the health of our nation's forest land by being more proactive when it comes to forest management. because forest fires are occurring on a large scale across the united states, proactive management must be initiated on a large scale. i believe my bill offers commonsense solutions to help solve our problem of declining forest health. my bill wed increased current categorical solutions to allow the forest service to rapidly dying trees-end
after wildfires, ice storms, or windy events. it would expedite the environmental process and create a good neighbor authority policy. it would also clarify the congressional intent upon the stewardship contracting and finally, it would provide greater certainty for the project level discussions through the litigation process. allow expanded use of 21st century techniques by land management professionals and not direct-mailhe specialist and litigators whose misguided efforts have resulted in disasters in our forest land. we have they know how to restore and we should waste no more time to use this technology to preserve and protect our forest landscape.
i urge my colleagues to support this bill. i thank you for bringing senate committeebefore the and inviting me to speak before this committee. >> welcome to the committee. >> thank you chairman and ranking member and members of the committee. to thank my colleagues sen. daines: is sponsoring this important bill. we are experiencing historic wildfires. the change in climate, historic drought, longer summer, crippled forest service resulting in a lack of management have turned it into a tinderbox just waiting up mother nature to light it and she did. montana is not out of danger yet. this has caused montana to burn through much of its budget and
already started a borrowing process. it was ruled the forest service required to continuously update its plan, even if it has already consulted with the fish and wildlife service. updated its plan in even if it continues to consult with the agency for projects under the plan. this means the forest service be puthat plan could under an injunction for years while the plan is updated and there is no guarantee the plan will not be needed to be updated again and again as the habitats change. all the while, the forest goes unmanaged. there has already been in junctions in montana alone. one of those included firemen work and part of that burned this summer as well. across regions 1, 2, and four at
least 80 projects are at risk. need to support the recovery of endangered species, there is no doubt about that. across the board it will not help to block. this legislation today is litigation for forest management act and will address the real issues for our forest service. countries, mitigate wildlife and hazards. restore, strengthen, and maintain our force. it will ensure requirements to update force plants make sense willhat the four service be a look to get started on projects instead of being stuck in constant bureaucracy. it will cut through red tape and allow the forest service to spend more time in the woods and less time in the courtrooms. this will help good for us projects move forward. these projects were carefully
designed. they will take input from the public. ideally, they were holed up in court. to get the job done, they need the resources to do the analysis. if the forest service spends as ish money fighting fires, it less money for recreational access, to create watershed production, and the due diligence they need to succeed and produce a healthy forest. the forest services borrowing $390 to cover firefighting costs to share. cannotpletion means they responsibly manage our forest and it is harder to mitigate the impact of what file. -- senate we may not be able to decide how to tackle climate change today but we should be able to give the four serves the tools they
need to responsibly manage our forest. relief for forest management is a good start but we will need to address funding issues as well. >> thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you very much. sen. daines: welcome. legislation increased active forest management by a damaging court decision that .reates red tape we burn over one million acres in montana this fire season in and the ranking member, we lost huge. it is big. to put it in perspective, we lost two firefighters. montanat her lives in fighting those fires. this legislation cut if i do legal position taken by the obama administration. the department of agriculture and an interior under the
current administration likewise have expressed support for the core elements of my legislation. there is a reason there are two montana does in front of you today and herring. montana had two of the three most expensive fires in the nation. you saw the brief from secretary purdue yesterday. he stack ring the fires and montana at number one and the fire near city like. furthermore, representative mike simpson, representative collin peterson have introduced bipartisan companion legislation and house. so we have this bipartisan bicameral viewpoint. dozens oforted by organizations, several sportsmen, and conversation -- conservation groups as well. senate bill 605 response to the ninth circuit ruling versus servicesd that for
required to do a next ruler of plan level consultation with the u.s. fish and wildlife services which fall into the designation of critical habitat for the speeches. to declare, the four service and fish and wildlife services were already conducting robust analysis. the agencies were and are fully committed to the conservation of the species. the cottonwood ruling stands in contrast with a 10th circuit rolling on a related case in 2007. unfortunately in 2016, october, the supreme court declined the petition tostration resolve the conflicting second court opinion which effectively upholds the ninth circuit ruling. as highlighted by president obama's department of justice, cottonwood ruling has and i quote, the potential to cripple the forest service and the olympus land management -- and
land management. unnecessary paperwork without any conservation benefit. far from being just a case about the there are more than 800 50 listed species in the geographical area of the ninth circuit and emphasized the sheer volume of the agency recs -- resources required. force services now above the grizzly bear consultation. today, there are five forest management projects in montana comprising over 150 million timber that have been blocked due to the cottonwood decision. reducing the risk of fire fire
-- force fires. this project was enjoined this past spring, just days before the work was set to begin. about one month later, guess what happened. of theroke out on some very acres that would have been treated under this project. while i can't say the project would have prevented the fire, the mere fact that wildfires a cured -- occurred in areas -- use of cottonwood senate bill 605 verifies that
federal agencies do not need to do the extra layer of unnecessary consultation as required by the cottonwood decision. fix, remove the burden and allow agencies to complete preventive work on the ground. managementth other and wildfire funding reforms should be passed this year. either we are going to manage the forest or the force will manage us. i look forward to working with this committee. >> we appreciate you bringing forward this bipartisan piece of legislation and we are grateful for your leadership. we will now hear from our witnesses. i am pleased to first introduced jessica crowder.
from her work with the governor's office and as a former policy analyst for the wyoming department of agriculture, jessica knows the value of strong coronation among states, local and federal agencies. she holds a masters in range management, in which she studied post fire activities, including .razing she is a key member on the governor's task force on forests which completed in 2015 and she continues to work closely with me and my staff to develop for stray solutions. jessica wears many hats and offers a unique perspective. tripreciate you making the and your suggestions and improving forest health. fight, we. lawson
appreciate you being here today. i would like to remind the witnesses that your full testimony will be made part of the official hearing record today. please keep your comments to five minutes so that we can have time for questions. ms. crowder: thank you for the opportunity to testify on enhancing forest management to effectively mitigate wildfires. makeng forrester glanced him a than a million acres of our state and over 60% is administered by the forest service and the bureau land management. federal impaired -- federal impediments have impacted wyoming's economy and current health. it demands immediate action. force in 2013ask
to analyze and consider response strategies for forest management. we believe there are opportunities to reach the goal of sustainable forest. a look's forest offers at the need firm management. all of these serve to improve forest health. despite this knowledge, we have not been able to fully implement active management at a landscape scale and the results are concerning. morethe past 20 years, than 4.6 cumulative acres of trees killed by insect and disease in wyoming alone. the cost-effective wildfires has increased across the west. dead trees pose a hazard for humans. for trees make it difficult animals to use an area.
it is difficult to access areas for treatment for livestock management or for recreational pursuits. forests impacted by insects and disease make firefighting difficult. 2017 has been an average year in terms of wildfires for wyoming. this is not true for several western states. for wyoming, 2012 was a record-setting year it over 700,000 acres burned and over 75 residences were destroyed. it costs approximately $110 million. occurrenceed increase erosion and sedimentation in reservoirs that provide water for people. and equality has been affected by smoke. the wyoming department of environmental quality has recorded nearly 40 values over air-quality standards.
because of these impacts of unmanaged force fires, i offer the solutions. first, i would like to it address insect disease areas. federal agencies are hesitant to use existing authorities and capitalize on opportunities to complete analyses in a next indicted manner. in wyoming, more than 2000 acres -- 2000 acres have been implemented. additionally increasing acreage will be allowed to be considered and be beneficial. it will take management on a larger scale than in recent years to reduce wildfire risk. i am in has worked to increase partnerships between the forest service and the blm.
the farm bill is important for getting more work done on the ground. this worked for treatment to proactive management and decreases the potential for large intensifiers. intensive fires. finally, i would like to discuss the environmental national policy act. it is a procedural statute designed to disclose impacts and assist federal agencies in making decisions. but it has evolved into a costly process. analyses contained a necessary information in an effort to guard against or answer possible litigation. containsn testimony simple suggestions for improving nepa. a shift from how the laws currently being executed will require leadership and i submit this committee is exceedingly
qualified to undertake and a compass of goal of restoring and neighbor -- streamlining nepa. i welcome any questions you may have. >> thank you. thank you for the opportunity to address you today. the american resource council represents the forest products industry in washington, oregon, idaho and california. our businesses in the communal -- rural communities they support. familyne of the only
jobs in these areas and these are the linchpin of many rural economies. the building and logging infrastructure makes forest restoration and thinning possible. we are invested in sustaining this renewable resource for protectingrations, our communities and protecting our forest so it will offer its benefits to the many users who were, fish, hunt and recreate there. by now, swaths of our federal forests are overstocked, unhealthy, and at high risk of catastrophic wildfire. as you heard during this hearing, this year's wildfire season in the west was one of the worst on record. over 8 million acres burned. the effects of these wildfires is not mrs. -- mere statistics.
they are human suffering, brent burnedestroyed and -- homes, destroyed wildlife habitat. resources are lost, leading to job loss and closure of that needed loving and milling infrastructure. many of these risks were illustrated by the eagle creek fire just west of portland. this fire took weeks to contain. it turned key area water force -- water sources and damaged recreational sites. it covered the entire portland area with a thick blanket of smoke. on september 17, portland had the worst air quality in the entire country. portland public schools canceled their first day of kindergarten this year. my daughter's preschool, they have gone outside every day for 30 years.
this year, they had to stay inside for several days because of the poor air quality from this wildfire. fortunately, there are solutions the resiliencese of our forest and. rock communities the legislation before you today makes great strides on land management agencies. the litigation for forest management project act, which is a bipartisan bill,\ and a by -- and a wouldral partisan bill fix the disastrous, decision, which is currently stalling a wide range of needed projects across 11 national forests. would fix the decision by adopting the position taken by the obama administration in front of the ninth circuit and in the petition to the supreme court. is listed orecies
a new critical habitat designated, it is not enough to consult on that species for a project that is underway. it ruled at the four service had to go back and redo its plan level consultation, even for a forest plan that may be 20 or more years old, in the northwest --particular operated operating under forest lands -- plans from 1984. consultations often include a broad level of acceptable impacts the can be spread over many projects. when projects are analyzed project by project, a buffer is more likely to be incorporated to ensure those projects did not adversely affect listed species. has had a dramatic effect on the ability of region 1 of the forest service to manage its land, and that is
only the beginning. 605, both as 14, 1731 are worthy of your consideration. currently, there are too many roadblocks and too much analysis paralysis going on in managing a federal forests. cantions to these problems be achieved here in washington, d.c., and we urge the committee to act. >> thank you very much, mr. fite. >> thank you for the invitation to be with you all. i'm so thankful to you mr. chairman for holding this hearing. this is a crisis that is not nearly receiving the attention it deserves. it's a big number. there is a million makers burning right now, which is the size of my state of delaware. in wildfirest years
history has been in the last 15. it is truly terrifying. there are solutions that have gone up to the 2 yard line in the last two w congresses. fire is natural. there are appropriate uses of fire. that is not what we are talking about today. these mega-fires we are seeing it are -- seeing are unlike anything we have seen before. they are more frequent. this year, we had decent snowpack in a lot of places. the summer was so hot after that, all the additional precipitation we had was not enough to increase the soil health. climatet ignore the impact, but there are things we can do about it. right now, the forest service is estimated between 65 million and 82 million acres require restoration. we are only restoring a fraction
of that. for this conversation, it is imperative that we link the management improvement possible with this funding crisis. we can have all the tools in the world for our guys on the ground and they are doing the best they can with the tools they have. but there are no resources to restore these four spans. it will all be for not. there is a bipartisan path forward. there is a huge coalition of folks. we incurred that this conversation be tied to that conversation. if we don't fix this fire funding crisis, a lot of these tools we are talking about will be insufficient. we talked about being half of the four service budget fighting fires, we are pushing up to 65% in the next two years. -- we same time, we are can improve forest management. there are common things -- common sense things we can do. we should be focusing on habitat
restoration. we should be sure that wildlife health and adequate -- aqueduct health should be included. bills -- there are two great at reaching this balance. the sagebrush bill is a good start. it is a build target on a very specific problem, the juniper encouragement and some of these other invasive species. it requires a habitat benefit that addresses multiple threats. it has incredible bipartisan support. you have support from almost all the conservation groups, support from industry groups, like the petroleum institute, the nra, a couple of small pieces. there could bek
unintended consequences, but it is a great bipartisan bill that we strongly support. the cottonwood bill, huge bipartisan support, rod coalition of folks. there are a few small pieces that small groups want to talk about. that has big bipartisan support that makes a lot of sense. i agree that a lot of the concerns raised are things we need to address. the bill goes a little too far in some places and we would like to go -- work with the committee. there should be more collaboration and empower local communities and safeguards set by the wayside that could be kept in place and still be more efficient. these are conversations that are timely. you can have a big bipartisan win at a time in this chamberlain bipartisanship is fairly rare. you could have a massive bipartisan victory in the next two months using these bills as the basis and combining with senator crapo's work.
if we can put forward a package to solve the wildfire funding crisis finally, adopt landscape scale approaches on the nature conservancy doing good work on this, reduce some of these redundant environmental reviews .hat sustains efficiency there's nothing more frustrating for folks than to participate in and then for years expanding and improving these good stewardship provisions and address a major problem on the landscape in a way -- a big way. thank you for working on this issue. this is one of those opportunities that could be governed at its best. we could put our heads together and have something done. >> thank you very much for your testimony. we will proceed to some questioning at this time. ms. crowder, according to the ,ederal and management agencies
humans are either intentionally or unintentionally of -- an intensely responsible. the cost of fighting the most expensive fire in the united states history was in california and it exceeded $200 million. it was caused by an illegal cap fire. in wyoming, a fire believed to be a man caused destroyed with a 19 square miles near yellowstone national park. million to fight the fire in wyoming. given the high cost to the american taxpayer, are there measures we should be taking to make the forest more resistant to catastrophic man-made fires or man-cause fires? ms. crowder: yes, there are steps we should be taking an could take easily. first, continued support for fire assistance programs is important. in wyoming, this includes fire prevention efforts, educating
the public on the impact their actions they may have on citizens and just their visit to these areas. fire was programs to help homeowners and communities reduce the risk of wildfire damaged are also important. course, hazardous fuel reduction projects are very important. this is an opportunity to mitigate wildfire hazards and lessen the threat of catastrophic fires or mega-fires . it is an opportunity to reduce lighter feels, opportunities to reduce surface feels and put in place some thinning projects. these state fire systems programs also provide the opportunity to build or maintain capacity of state, federal and volunteer fire departments, when wecome important have these fires. proactive management on a large scale is necessary as well. are suggesting a
complete hands-off approach. you have expressed skepticism to this, especially june of this year. were quoted as saying this approach "leads to conditions that are quite an healthy and even dangerous. >> -- dangerous." mr. chairman, yes. absolutely. there are things we can do to make our forest more resilient and to restore a more natural in our ecosystem. that means untying the hands to implement active management on a wider basis and without devoting tomuch of their resources planning activities. the four service figures we have
seen say 40% of the time and paperworkare spent on and planning. that is not the way we should be out there managing our forests, reducing the fuels, so that when a fire comes through, the are not catastrophic like we have seen this year. ms. crowder, as a doctor, i'm concerned about health impacts of these wildfires. wasier this month, it reported the epa consider the equality over parts of several western states as very and healthy because of the fires. it also quoted a physician with the american lung association who warned that fires spew particulates into the other are linked to premature cancer and make asthma and chronic lung diseases worse. as a wyoming official and a resident, can you describe the impact on the physical health of the people of the west?
ms. crowder human health is a concern when it comes to wildfires. the air quality in miami has been particularly bad this year. particulates suspended in the air really do cause damage. the wyoming department of health has put out several announcements and warnings to .yoming citizens as a wyoming resident, i have seen my neighbors forced inside because of air quality. that is concerning in wyoming. we are concerned about visitors who visit our great state. and the impact that poor quality has on them and their trip and our economy. we are concerned with municipal watersheds and the impact that fires may have on watersheds, and that ouration water may smell like smoke or
like dirt because of a small fire in her area. barrasso thank you. >> we had a chance to hear comments and testimony. do you agree with anything he said? you make some very good points. fire is a natural process and we do need to look at management at a large-scale anadolu -- and atagement needs to occur now a large scale. there are several tools we have in the toolbox and we need to be using those immediately. i also believe that the mega-fireshat these that are of concern is true.
collaboration is an important part of the process. we have seen some of forward. we have seen the forest service lead some of these collaboratives and for together landscape management activities and that's important. however, i think we need to move quickly and time is of the essence. >> thank you. ?o you agree with mr. o'mara o'mara discussed thatottonwood bill and how is a way to ensure that we get needed forest management particularly in the northern rockies and other regions where they are being held up for paperwork reasons that aren't producing conservation benefits. aspect, weaboration
come in the industry, we support collaborative efforts where they produce good projects. we have a project where i represented a collaborative in court that has been held up in litigation under the cottonwood decision. collaborative up projects and that is why we need to fix. in your testimony regarding the litigation really fact, you mentioned that other members of the conservation thisnity who are concerned bill may be broader than necessary to achieve its goals and may result in some unintended consequences. can you elaborate on these unintended consequences and how we might address these concerns in the legislation?
mr. o'mara: there concern that, if you are only looking at the project level when there is new information that comes on, there could be information that could be a should be accumulated across the entire plan. can resolve this quickly. we support the bill as it is. grateful to saturdays for what he has done. aese are supposed to be in desperate and every 10 years. it is more like 25 years in practice. the biggest thing is just making sure there are no unintended consequences at scale. sen. carper: do you have any brief reaction to what he just said? i do believeyes, that these projects do need to happen for habitat management. the danes bill does allow for projects-specific flotation and
that is important. we want to see species recovery and we don't want to harm that in any way or the opportunity for axa getting management done on the ground. i do agree that is an important step going forward. sen. carper: any comments on what he just said? mr. fite: i think this bill is carefully drawn. asdoes not undo existing law to how you consult when your advisor prepare a new force plan. so the senators worked carefully to make this a narrow fix that eliminates work that will not benefit our species. morecarper: i have some questions. i hope there will be opportunity to ask them.
>> we have perry fires. i remember seeing the carcasses of animals. it is a tragic thing. ms. crowder, in your testimony, you say that outreach is in the , key stages of development to reducing the time it takes to make a decision. you have experience in that in this committee, doing the highway bills and everything else. we have learned from experience that we can do that. last week, i introduced a bill that pertains to the ferc permitting, providing for all federal, state and regulatory agencies to coordinate their participation. neededlike this is
across government for all other types of projects. why thisurther detail is important to get all the stakeholders to the table early? yes.rowder: i have extensive experience working on these processes and putting the documents together. from my personal experience, those projects where the federal agencies engaged state local governments, as well as others, early in the process tend to move faster. for example, if a state agency has wildlife habitat that is important and useful for the federal agency, that state agency can bring that wildlife data forward, instead of waiting to the last minute to provide that information. sen. inhofe: which is normally the case. ms. crowder: often the case. ringing entities to the table the have the data and ask for teases most importantly. sen. inhofe: we have done this
previouslly in the transportation bill, prior to a joint effort, a bipartisan effort, and very successful. hearing your testimony today, there seems to have been more of a system for force practices at a more local level. process, therea challenges from environmental groups come even though the decisions are backed by science and beneficial to view overall test to the overall ecosystem. these delayed projects for years and create insurgency. then we see situations like when the circuit court split in the supreme court -- and the supreme court does away in.
do you have any other thoughts on how you can solve these concentrate more on 1731? mr. o'mara: yes. litigation is a real problem, particularly when you have a project you are describing, ,here stakeholders get involved are at the table, helping develop the project, and then in then angroup -- and outside group halts everything in litigation. the arbitration provisions in at1 i think are a good step a pilot project to figure out ways to streamline the litigation process. the litigation process on top of the planning process can take years and years. we need to fix that.
1 you think 1736 would help in that respect? mr. fite: yes, senator. sen. inhofe: the legislation we are discussing today is a way to discuss force management issues. are there other things congress can do that are not addressed in this legislation? anybody? you are an effective, fast talker. [laughter] a joke where i grew up, in syracuse, new york, if you don't talk fast, your mouth will free shut. [laughter] we can make management improvements so they have more tools and we can have a victory that would transform forest management in this country. it would be one of the most significant improvements in decades.
putting those two together would be an absolute homerun. sen. inhofe: appreciate that. any other comments on that? are there things that are needed? mr. fite: there are a number of measures proposed on the house by congressman westermann, that would streamline planning process. in particular, an action/no action process. look atofe: we will those provisions. thank you, mr. chairman. this is just another reminder that we have a problem between two committees. this committee and the commerce committee, that always seem to meet at the same time. what are these days, we will get that fixed. quick -- >> organ has been burning with 20 major force fires and some of those are complexes. it is not one fire, but maybe a dozen.
at one point, there were more than 80 fires burning my state recently. i was up on the eagle creek trail and the pacific crest trail just before -- while the industry -- indian springs creek was burning. then we had the fireworks that set off the whole pacific gorge , phenomenal what that did. oregon has probably had more success in any state in the country on stewardship projects and collaborations. that effort came from -- well, we have this war going on over our forests. some say they should be managed primarily to get forest to an all growth state where they are fire resistant and don't mess with mother nature and others saying the solution to everything is to clear-cut.
so that war was a productive and ends up in all these court battles. out of that came the stewardship efforts in the collaborative effort. we have hundreds of thousands of force thategon, the is good for fire and disease, but neither great for timber stands or ecosystems. so there is a potential here for a win-win. that's what the stewardship projects and the -- are all about. in the end, it is some version of [indiscernible] you have forests with trees far too close together. the battle easily moves from the soil level to the canopy. every tree so close, it lets the next one on fire, and that carries over out of the federal force onto private land. i was involved in a couple of
pilot project that involved various types of thinning. i have been up in the woods with both to the companies and the environmental groups to discuss how do we push this forward. , just want to ask each of you ms. crowder, do you feel like there is a real space for thinning projects to be able to provide a steady supply to the mills but also reduce the disease and fire challenges we have in these forests? ms. crowder: thank you. thinning is a new -- is absolutely a useful tool to reduce feels that lead to ground fires. it has the attentional to improve wildlife habitat. it has positive impacts on tree growth, which leads to positive tree and forest health. it also leads to potential
decrease in insect and disease. i do believe thinning is a useful tool for reducing fuel and improving forest health. let thinning is only one of the tools toolbox. sen. merkley: do you feel that is a useful tool? mr. fite: yes, senator. thinning projects are a useful tool. i would say, even for thinning projects, the process and litigation has become a significant roadblock. projects in oregon, 187-acre project, for example, a couple thousand acres, courts are required on environmental impact statement, which is more documentation then you need to build a new runway to hillsboro airport, literally. that's why we need some fixes to management. sen. merkley: i will point out that virtually no stewardship projects ended up in court in oregon. the point is to get people the
other beforehand and work out what is called a prescription so you don't end up in court. mr. o'mara: i think you are right. bestn has some of the examples. i would like to see a lot more of it. i want to see in hands those programs. -- enhance those programs. essential to improve management. sen. merkley: one of the within a projects as they are not viable. it is cheaper to take out trees in big chunks, big clearcuts. that's why we have programs to help fund that thinning. we have a lot in the stimulus bill, various other feel hazardous loads. we need to do a lot more than that.
that's an interesting sound. whose phone is that? sounded like it was coming from out there. [laughter] hello? [laughter] so that's one challenge, the projects. one of the things that happens often when we have fires is there are folks who say, well, the best thing to do is just get rid of the environmental side and go in and allow clearcuts without any sort of action and, by the way, let's take out the fire-resistant trees at the same time. that puts off alarm bells. old growthe take out and the fire-resistant trees in the course of try to make a forest more resilient? and since i'm at a time, i won't ask you all to answer that. but i did notice that is exactly 1731,s in senate bill full permission to take out the old growth in the fire-resistant trees.
approachhe sort of that destroys all the efforts to bring together the two communities to create forest health. it's, like, oh, here is an excuse to do old-style rather than an actual forest stewardship and making the better timber stands and better ecosystems. so i just wanted to express the concern and say that we really increasingus on not the timber wars, but expanding on the foundation we have from the stewardship contracts and the collaborative's who are showing how we can stay out of the courts, make the force more healthy, and produce a steady supply. senator rounds: he stated that this fire season is one of the worst on record. far -- fire seasons are now
approximately two and a half months longer than in 1970. , over 20 month alone wildfires in the black hills national forest. we are facing a federal forest management crisis. if you can point to the most needed change to federal management policy, what would that be and why? most needede changes a focus on actively managing our landscape and making sure that the force service and the blm, the two agencies with the most federal forest, that that is their number one priority. wildfires have to be fought when they come out. it certainly costs a lot of money and we need to pay for it. but we need to get there on the front and a making around this our landscapes more resilient.
so when a fire does come through, we don't get the destructive and catastrophic effects like we have seen this season and the past few seasons. sen. rounds: the suggestion is clearcutting forests. can you talk about that for a minute? is that what the desired management practices -- practice is? mr. fite: no. i appreciate you asking the question. in one of the previous comments in the committee was a clear orn -- are we removing fire resistant trees? when we are doing active management, there are different tools that agencies use in different circumstances. in some cases, you may want to use a former regeneration harvest. but a land management agency
goes in and uses its tools intelligently, knowing how the landscape will benefit. research,en particularly in california, that a little more intensive management can open up areas for some of these iconic -- for prey species --conic out species. owl sen. merkley: you are talking about diversity within the forest itself. you want some areas where the grass, somewhat shrubberies, arewhere timber stands allowed. it's like managing a garden. mr. fite: that is a fair characterization. the forest service should be using all the tools at its disposal to make an active forest that uses all the multiple uses it is designed for. i think there are solutions out
there with active management that can help give them those tools and help our communities as well. sen. merkley: in your testimony, you indicated there seems to be a disparity in outcomes between federally anon meant -- not federally managed forest lands. with all respect to our federal agencies and employees, i have -- blackthand lack hills in my home state. a failure to properly manage forest land or a lack of management entirely is what leads to some of these very dangerous conditions. fuel build ups, undergrowth that has not been addressed in some that, old growth timbers have not been thinned in some cases. when you have a pine beetle infestation, you end up with so --h heat that you literally you basically sterilize the ground.
can you elaborate on exactly what the federal government is doing wrong if it relates to active force management? mr. fite: it's a combination of factors. one of those is the agencies' hands are tied behind their back by a number of these repetitive processes and then the litigation loop. they are not able to get projects together to scale or the pace they need to get them to us -- to get them to work. sen. merkley: you testified that the permanent authorization of good name are isn't -- good neighbor is important to get it on the ground. how -- howk about that has allowed you to manage the force? ms. crowder: in the black hills of the national forest, we have state forest three and working with the federal government as well as the
national wild turkey foundation, a good neighbor authority project does improve management on the black hills. we have seen particular projects on blm lands in south-central wyoming where we have been able to work with other entities, including the blm and the foreign service to do habitat improvement and get timber moved off those areas before it is unusable. sen. rounds: thank you. sen. barrasso: thank you. senator gillibrand. gillibrand: you mentioned the u.s. for service is restoring just under 5 million acres per year. it also estimates that approximately city 5 million acres of forest service land is in need of some type of restoration. this seems an alarming gap between what needs to be done and what is actually being done to prevent wildfires.
yesterday, secretary perdue said what we need is a "permanent funding fix" and that a legislative effort is not needed if this fixes provided. do you agree the major impediment to efforts is temer lack of funding and resources? and what level of funding should there be? i absolutely agree with secretary perdue. you can have all the management tools in the world. have resources and products on the ground, they are all for now. you spend $2 billion between the four service and the blm and the interior agencies fighting these fires.ophic that doesn't include the money the pentagon is spending and some state agencies are spending on top of it. it's a massive number. there has been good work in the appropriations process to put a band-aid on the problem, but there is a great bipartisan bill
that is a perfect path to having the funding necessary. my belief is we should dedicate a separate fund for fires, rather than putting it in the universe. if there is another hurricane, those funds are not predictable. there should be several funding. that model has bipartisan support in this body. if we can move that quickly, that would solve problems. right now, this restoration deficit, if he had all the money in the world, you would be able acres ine 82 million the coming years instead of this maybe 20 or 30 at the current rate of funding. gillibrand: in your written testimony, you raised several concerns.
one is the reduction of public transparency and involvement and what are the cost -- what are the consequences of limiting ?hat how would such a limitation affect the ability for the public to provide meaningful input in the process? mr. o'mara: i am a big fan of collaborative processes. the in 2014 farm bill had a great model to have a more collaborative process. they kept the environmental safeguards, but focused on empowering the collaborative. there is a moderate middle. there is a bipartisan agreement that this overreaches on a few fronts. none of us want to see past projects that are collaborative blown up by the courts. there is a middle ground. i would love to work with you and the committee on fighting them.
sen. gillibrand: a major reason why we subject major projects to an environmental review process is to ensure that the voices of the public and other stakeholders are heard before decisions are made. this allows for potential consequences and unintentional consequences to be determined instead of after-the-fact. can you give me an example of how this has worked well to resolve environmental issues before a project was of limited? mr. o'mara: there are incredible projects in places like oregon and montana that have had great collaborative processes that have identified potential and making sure that you don't have an adverse impact on species. have a more voices at the local level is the best way to do this. i like this -- i would like to see these processes bolstered.
of the somebody not part process blow them up, this is where the bill to make sure we are not having to go back on the entire plan but just focus on a specific piece in getting the best collaboration at that level is a common sense moderate middle to make sure that projects that are good in collaborative actually advance. mr. fite: certainly in idaho and in montana, there is a lot of progress. i was involved in a project in southern idaho where we got on the phone with conservation groups and the forest service and worked something out. things are a little more difficult in oregon. we have a collaborative project under litigation by a former amber of a collaborative and group that has participated in those processes. i think that is a frustrating experience for folks when they go in that process and then there is still litigation. sen. gillibrand: chairman, i am
at a time. can jessica answer this? ms. crowder: i will be brief. ms. crowder:the collaboratives are important. we have collaborative processes beginning in wyoming. oregon in those efforts. involving the people ugly on the ground who live and work in these communities are of the utmost importance. however, i would often caution and what we hear from our constituents is that we need immediate action. they want to be involved in the process, but they want the process to lead to action on the graph. i apologize for being late. i was at a veterans hearing, talking about veteran suicide, which is also very important. but also, this is very important, too, in a different way. my state of arkansas is active in forest estate in on private
some instances on federal land. we have a thriving timber industry that provides good paying jobs for thousands of arkansas. it appears that investing in forest management is not only, good for our environment but also boosts the u.s. economy. , in answers tony questions, it appears that you feel like the legislation we are foresting would enhance management practices would help with the force fire situation. and my correct in that? ms. crowder: yes, sir.
trees are of the most importance for having a healthy environment. active management of the street only increases those opportunities. sen. boozman: will you all comment? mr. o'mara: i will comment very quickly. i met with one of our sawmill members. he said i sequester carbon. productsg wood into like the paneling in this room. we are sequestering carbon and restoring it in our forests. we have these catastrophic wildfires, we are releasing amounts of carbon that could be caped in those forests and with good, active management. the estimates have ranged from 50 million metric tons of carbon from these
wildfires to 150 million. all the refineries combined are 220 million metric tons. if weekend improve management of thatorests, in a way reduces these catastrophic fires, the emission savings is incredible. sen. boozman: forest management is generally a bipartisan issue. do think the legislation in front of us today promotes the environment with reducing redundant processes? i think a ghost of the, that ms. crowder said a few moments ago, the need, when you talk to individuals on the ground, the locals, getting something done now, but we have redundancies and we just have a problem assist of action -- a paralysis of action. mr. fite: absolutely.
forestry is a barge -- a bipartisan space. it is encouraging that there are so many bills, particularly litigation reform bill sponsored by danes and tester. that is encouraging because it is so important to our communities and to our ecosystems. we can do a lot of things that are win-win, where we are increasing the health of our forest, also increasing the stability of our communities. one of the great things about --r street -- four street forestry is that it provides jobs that are blue-collar middle class. that doe not many jobs that. it's a great thing for america. can you just take a
minute and explain the relevance of the term categorical exclusion to this discussion? and then i will ask you more specific questions. the categorical exclusion is a way to have a project to find that avoids the ofd for the level environmental analysis. they have been used strategically in some places. administrative agencies have authority to have narrowly crafted ones. it's a way to expedite the review of projects by not having the same level of scrutiny. ign-up sen. carper: it has been used 30 of 40 times. on average, i believe it is
about a thousand acres at a time. we heard testimony they had enough fully utilized this authority. your testimony expresses strong concern about proposed new categorical exclusions, up to 10,000 acres. can you talk more about the unintended consequences of implementing such a broad exclusion, particularly before the forest service is implemented as a full authority. mr. o'mara: there's two parts to the proposal. one is increasing the acreage and the other is reducing the collaboration and the restoration intent that some of the other exclusions or have -- excursions have. we want to see a more narrow focus and have a restriction purpose. i think we've seen that in one bill. don't think it is necessary,
considering that the majority of thisces and turning to use , the deal from the farm in 2014 was a good one. i would like more tools and resources. sen. carper: that's awful. somewhere in your testimony, you mentioned the state of wyoming -- have you always lived in the state of wyoming? ms. crowder: i'm sorry? have you always lived in wyoming? ms. crowder: yes. carper: i go there are a couple of times. a lovely place. real wyoming. a good one.
you mentioned in your testimony that your native state requested that the forest service use in its authorities in the farm bill , but the agency has not yet done so. i want to ask you if you think that this is in large part because the forest services budget is inadequate and the agency has to spend more than half its budget fighting fires? ms. crowder: yes, sir. fire borrowing is a real concern. and governor mead shares that concern. it takes away opportunities for us to get some active management done on the ground as well as other projects, recreation projects, habitat enhancement projects and others. exclusions under the 2014 farm bill have not happened yet.
it is because of the hesitancy to use the tool and also because there are many instances where a larger action is necessary. so chipping away 3000 acres at a time like the medicine bow national forest will make the quickly, andn as it won't be as useful as we would like to see. sen. carper: thank you. i think i have one question for the next round. this would be for all witnesses. to the force services agency hasok, the 30, 40, maybe 35 categorical exclusions at its disposal. do you believe they are being fully utilized? if not, why do you think the have not been fully utilized? do you have a specific recommendation on how they can be better utilized? mr. fite: thank you, senator.
the categorical exclusions, many buthem are being utilized, they are for very small pieces treatmentor 70-acre or there is a categorical exclusion for facility maintenance. so many of these categorical exclusions don't really make a difference on the landscape. as far as barriers to using them, the forest service has done a good job using the farm bill authorities. certainly budget is an issue. but making sure that we can streamline authorities ensures that money will be spent wisely and he gets a good return. the difference between a categorical exclusion in da versus the other can be
significant in taxpayer dollars. mr. o'mara: i do think that we have been better at this the last two cycles. idea,s a really great these landscape scale plans, where you try to do restoration at scale and expedite the review. we would argue that we could use the process more efficiently and pat need the full-blown neo analysis. i think there is a better mash-up and get the same exact result on the ground and be more bipartisan. ms. crowder: categorical exclusions, i agree with these two gentlemen. cannot provide the needs that we have and i am in in region 2 and
-- when we don't see those categorical exclusions used to because they don't provide that thing -- the bank for your buck that is needed in some of these areas that are truly devastated, that is when concerns come in. we have projects that are close to 3000 acres that are starting to move forward under the insect and disease designation area permitted in the farm bill of 2014. however, it is slow. ,e would like to see that used be improved and expanded. as ank streamlining nepa whole is also necessary and a very good tool. sen. carper: sometimes, when you for unanimity, we
looked at panels like you. there is a lot of consensus. some counsel for us as we tried to move forward with these bills, just to keep in mind anything, any last thought? ms. crowder: thank you. , for wyoming and the rest of the country, what's important here is immediate action, an opportunity to evaluate what we want our forests to look like, how we want our forests to function. do we want them to provide. ecosystem benefits and jobs for our economy? do we want them to be a great place to recreate and wildlife? yes. we need to evaluate what those goals are for our forest and what are the steps to actually get there. in wyoming, we are concerned with management being too small, at two smaller scale to get to the area or to the level of
management that we would like to see and to see the healthy forest that we really do want and that are very important to our citizens. thank you for the opportunity. enclosing -- in wesing, some words to go on, have a great opportunity with active management to create healthy forests that support our communities and support many of of the national forests, which are great multiple use lands, timber production, recreation, and also of other uses. is a we need though conference of approach. merely fixing a budget approach without giving -- excuse me, giving the forest and blm or
isn'tment authorities going to get us to where we need to be with an actively managed healthy landscape. if we just send money at the problem -- and i agree with the wildfire funding problem needs to be fixed and we need industry support fixing that -- but without the management reforms, the management outcomes we need on our national forests. we in the forest products in history stand ready to partner across the aisle, across the solutions andeate support approaches that will create good results on the ground. thank you for the opportunity. there is an opportunity for a bipartisan agreement here. fire funding crisis fix is bipartisan in the senate. i think we have gotten really close a few times. -- the billfor you before you are also bipartisan.
and pieces ofght the thune bill could be bipartisan. but speed is of the essence. -- we have to be rational on all sides. collaboration and compromise, we could get this done by the end of the year. -- this could be one of of biggest resource bills the year. outcomes like wildlife habitat and forced resilience and what should health and local recreation and local jobs, there is a solution there. we would love to work with both of you to make that happen. sen. carper: think you so much. good to see you. include consent to letters and reports and the
record. >> i jacked. [laughter] >> projection is overruled. sen. barrasso: so many on the greatepend outdoors, hunting, fishing, hiking, all of the activities. can you talk about the impact on the outdoor economies? mr. o'mara: i think we haven't done a good job quantifying this. whothis year, all the folks try to go to glacier this year, impact a massive loss of on fish. i was in jackson a few weeks ago and there is still hazing the ze in the air. $30 billion about
to $50 billion of economic impact. policy,is just a better a small price to pay. barrasso: even things like the eclipse and the impact of people coming to wyoming and having a good vision. in terms of wildlife and the bettercs there, to protect species, this committee has examined how to improve wildlife conservation. we have had hearings. ofen the importance conservation in this committee, can you give thoughts on the devastating impact on our country's wildlife and how you believe these bills will help protect wildlife? mr. fite: yes, senator. absolutely. we have seen fires in the west recently that have have
had dramatic impact on key wildlife habitat. fire in klamath. it destroyed 20,000 acres of high-quality northern spotted owls habitat. they just destroyed it. it looks like a bomb had gone off. in itsrth service, evaluations of the northwest forest plan 20 years on, it impacts takeldfire key wildlife habitat are 10 times that of timber harvest or any other impact. wildfire is really the number one threat that a lot of these sensitive, endangered and threatened species are facing, especially force-dependent
species, and particularly old forest-dependent species. areas fornot managing timber production or more of the front country, if we are not managing that, then areas set outside its reserves will be vulnerable from fire. were not looking at management protects not -- it only the active, working for us, but areas we have set aside, such as glacier. the solutions in front of this committee can really have a positive impact on those conservation efforts. going back to the cottonwood bill, so many of those projects have significant wildlife benefits, like fish passage improvements and the like. the opportunity here is a great win-win of improving wildlife conservation and supporting our local economies and also preventing more
catastrophic wildfire in the future. senator, tourism is wyoming's number three industry. we have several of these reserve forest wilderness areas and national parks of people enjoy visiting. we have several places throughout our state that people are to go fish. they love to go hike. they love to get on the snake river and raft. what we see from wildfires are concerns from our tourists as well as our citizens, that they won't be able to do those things that they really want to do. from people letters who plan their once-in-a-lifetime trip to yellowstone grand teton national park and find out that there are wildfires and they don't know if they should come to wyoming or not. they don't know if they should cancel the trip. they are worried about their health. they are worried about to do the activities that they have planned a lifetime for. that is concerning. we saw that play out with the
great american eclipse. we are not the only state. the potential for people to come to wyoming and watched the eclipse and its totality, what an amazing experience really. and people planned for years for that. and what we saw was a concern and a real concern that wildfires would put a lot of smoke in the air and block that view, and that would have a major impact on our tourism industry, not just for that day, but in the weeks surrounding it. luckily, that ended up not being the case, but there were fire bans across the state to a that. that are concerned wildfires will ruin their industry, people who may be run a fishing business or a guide business wire rafting business. those folks have concerns that they will not be able to continue their livelihood in these areas if wildfires continue to be an issue and they
stop people from coming to these great places that we love across our nation. thank you. barrasso: thank you for the great testimony. some members may want to submit written questions. i hope you will respond to those quickly. the record will stay open for two weeks. i want to thank each and everyone of you for being here for this very important issue. this hearing is adjourned. thank you. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017]
arthur. >> he recognized he wasn't qualified for the job. he ended up on the ticket by accident. he was surprised to be there. he never imagined he would be president of the united states. all of a sudden, he is on the threshold of office. >> tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q&a. friday, ryan zinke he spoke with the heritage foundation on the trump administration's policy to increase to mystic energy production. he also addressed reports that he had taken multiple trips using private and military air travel since becoming secretary. this is just over 30 minutes. 30 minutes. >> good morning, ladies and gentlemen.