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Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today commended the U.S. Forest Service on its updated wildfire mitigation plan titled “Strategy for Protecting Communities and Improving Resilience in America’s Forests.”
“I’m pleased the U.S. Forest Service has released its 10-year implementation plan to confront the wildfire crisis in the West. This plan greatly expands the work that will be done and focuses on areas at greatest risk for wildfire, an approach that will benefit California. This strategy includes plans to utilize the $3.3 billion for wildfire mitigation efforts included in the bipartisan infrastructure bill that President Biden signed into law late last year,” Senator Feinstein said.
Key provisions in the Forest Service’s 10-year wildfire mitigation plan:
- Conduct hazardous fuels removal and forest thinning on 75 million acres of federal, state, tribal and private lands over 10 years, a tripling of the 20 million to 30 million acres that were expected to be treated over the same period.
- Help expand the U.S. Forest Service workforce to accomplish fuel reduction and forest health programs throughout the West.
- Increase the pace of post-fire recovery and reforestation programs. The Forest Service estimates that 4 million acres of land are in need of this work.
Senator Feinstein continued: “Wildfires are devastating the Western United States. The eight largest wildfires in California history have all occurred since 2017. Over that time, nearly 200 lives have been lost, more than 32,000 homes destroyed and 10 million acres have been scorched in California alone. The Forest Service is right: This is a national emergency and it calls for decisive action.
“Importantly, the Forest Service plan calls for the removal of hazardous fuels that feed fires from 75 million acres of forestland, triple the 25 million acres typically treated over the same time period. Much of this work will be focused in at-risk communities in California. The plan also details how the Forest Service will expand its workforce and increase the pace of post-fire recovery and reforestation programs.
“To meet those aggressive goals, the Forest Service will need additional funding and will have to work at much larger scales. I look forward to Senate action in the coming months on the Wildfire Emergency Act, a bill I introduced last year. Among the bill’s provisions is $250 million for federal agencies to partner with local communities on large-scale fuel reduction projects of 100,000 acres or more.
“The Forest Service plan also acknowledges the federal government must do more to incentivize the use of small-diameter timber that results from fuel reduction. I remain hopeful that Congress will pass the Build Back Better Act, which includes language inspired by my Community Wood Facilities Assistance Act that would provide large-scale grants to facilities making use of this small-diameter wood.
“We must address the threat of wildfire with the seriousness it deserves. I will continue to push for additional funding and rapid implementation of programs to ensure we are doing all we can to mitigate the risk of devastating wildfires in California.”