July 22, 2021

Bicameral Leaders Introduce Legislation to Improve Wildfire Management and Response Efforts

Washington, D.C.--Today, U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) joined Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Representative Blake Moore (R-Utah) to introduce bicameral legislation to better manage firesheds, or landscapes at extremely high risk of catastrophic fire.  The Forest Improvements through Research and Emergency Stewardship for Health Ecosystem Development and Sustainability (FIRESHEDS) Act, would allow governors to enter into joint agreements with land management agencies to designate fireshed management areas and implement management projects.  It would also expedite the environmental review process to perform critical fuel reduction and prescribed fires to better protect public health, critical infrastructure, wildlife habitats and watersheds.

The FIRESHEDS Act was also co-sponsored in the Senate by John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) and Steve Daines (R-Montana).

“Wildfires pose a serious threat to Idaho, and the historic drought and record-breaking heat our state has faced this past year has only exacerbated the issue.  To better reduce the risk of continued devastating wildfires in Idaho forests, we must find a long-term solution for active forest management, said Crapo.  “The FIRESHEDS Act will allow states like Idaho to enter into joint agreements with land management agencies to improve the effectiveness of fireshed management collaboration among land managers and government agencies, along with access to more wildfire management resources, will support good stewardship of our forests and improve our capabilities to fight catastrophic fires.”

“The time has long passed to slowly chip away at our forest health issues and hope the problem will improve by next year.  Idaho is 40 percent forestland, the vast majority of which is managed by government entities, and decades of insufficient forest management have left millions of these acres vulnerable to the kinds of catastrophic fires that have increasingly become the norm in the West,” said Senator Risch.  “The FIRESHEDS Act will provide increased latitude for governors and federal land management agencies to work together to responsibly manage landscapes to improve forest health and reduce the risk of uncontrollable and destructive wildfire.”

“Over a billion acres of land in the U.S. are at risk for wildfires, and this is a major problem in Utah and across the west as we experience a historic drought season,” said Representative Moore.  “This rapid uptick in wildfires is due to forests being overstocked with fuel, fire exclusion policies, and more.  The FIRESHEDS Act would address these challenges by establishing fireshed areas and giving our land managers the tools they need to better prevent, mitigate, and respond to wildfires.  I am proud to lead on this effort at a critical time as our nation quickly responds to a major surge in wildfires.”

Organizations who have endorsed the FIRESHEDS Act include the Idaho Forest Group, Associated Logging Contractors—Idaho, Federal Forest Resource Coalition, Missouri Forest Products Association, Colorado Timber Industry Association, Associated California Loggers, Louisiana Forestry Association, Minnesota Forest Industries, American Forest Resource Council, Southeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association, Michigan Forest Products Council, Black Hills Forest Resource Association, Intermountain Forest Association, Associated Contract Loggers & Truckers of Minnesota, American Loggers Council, Montana Wood Products Association, Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association, Associated Oregon Loggers, American Forest & Paper Association, American Walnut Manufacturers Association, Hardwood Federation, U.S. Geospatial Executives Organization, National Society of Professional Surveyors, and the National Association of Forest Service Retirees.

For bill text, click here.