Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act

By Chad Smith, NMF&LB

Although New Mexico has had a comparatively mild fire season, our skies are still hazy as smoke drifts in from the devastating fires on the West Coast. Our prayers are with those in California, Oregon and Washington whose lives and livelihoods are being destroyed by wildfires. But we can do more than offer prayers, we can support those who are trying to rectify decades of forest neglect with legislation that would institute better land management practices in our national forests, parks, and other federally managed lands. The Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act, S. 4431, introduced by Senator Steve Daines (MT) and Rep. Doug LaMalfa (CA-1) and co-sponsored by Senator Diane Feinstein (CA), would expedite forest management, accelerate post-fire restoration and reforestation, and remove dead and dangerous wood from national forests to help prevent future catastrophic wildfires.

With over six million acres of forest land currently burning in the western United States the need for the legislation is dire and so we, along with 12 other farm bureaus including Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming, signed on to a letter of support for the bi-partisan legislation.

In part it states: “Backlogs in adequate management coupled with drier, hotter conditions, have resulted in unhealthy, overly dense forests. When fires inevitably occur, these conditions result in larger, more catastrophic fires that are difficult to control, destructive to both urban and rural communities and pose great threats to both private property and human life.”

Please join us in urging your legislator to support S. 4431.