Washington, DC — In the wake of another deadly wildfire season in California, federal administration leaders are calling for immediate action by Congress to allow them additional mechanisms to improve the health of forested areas.
Clarke Broadcasting took part in a telephone press conference today with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue who oversees the US Forest Service and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke who oversees public lands owned by the Bureau of Land Management and parks like Yosemite.
Perdue indicated that as part of the Farm Bill negotiations, he is urging that Congress give federal agencies additional authority to implement and increase the speed of forest management efforts. It includes expanding, and making permanent, categorical exclusions regarding insects and diseases in the forest, and new categorical exclusions for fire prevention and post fire recovery. He would also like the authority to expand partnerships with local counties and tribes related to mutually beneficial forest projects.
“We’re not talking about clear-cutting,” emphasized Perdue. “We’re talking about good forest management that makes sense for homes and beautifies the forest. As the Farm Bill is concluding, the negotiations are really dealing around these forest management techniques right now, and we would ask Congress to give us the authority to do what we know how to do, and that is to take care of our environment.”
Zinke added, “There are active forest management principles that we need to move forward on. One is to remove the dead and dying trees, also to thin, and do prescribed burns late in the season rather than mid-season. This is fixable. It goes back years, the failure to manage our public lands, and it is absolutely a situation that can be mitigated.”
Zinke recently visited the Camp Fire in Butte County, and Perdue noted he is coming to the state on Monday to also see the destruction in Paradise.