‘We have quite literally loved our trees to death…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., and the Congressional Western Caucus are turning tree-huggers’ own arguments against them as forest fires regularly continue to ravage areas like California.
Re-introducing the Resilient Federal Forests Act, which cleared the Republican-led House last session but was mired in the Senate, Westerman said that green conservation efforts have been far from eco-friendly and better forest management is needed.
“We have quite literally loved our trees to death,” Westerman said in a recent announcement. “Forests going up in flames and releasing tons of carbon into the atmosphere is not true conservation; proactive, sound forest management is.”
Westerman, a forester by trade before seeking office, called on Congress to stop tying the hands of the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management with bureaucracy and litigation.
According to The Hill, 40 percent of Forest Service employees’ time is spent on paperwork as liberal groups fight to block the removal of bad brush from protected areas.
“Years of mismanagement have led to insect infestation, overstocked stands, and dead and decaying trees,” Westerman said.
In addition to addressing things like injunctive relief, the bill also calls for financial reforms tied to liabilities, legal fees and the arbitrary ceiling on contracted services—which not only hinder firefighting and prevention, but also the reforestation efforts afterward.
The cost of fighting the fires alone has reached upward around $2.5 billion in recent years, without even taking into account the massive collateral damage, said Congressional Western Caucus chair Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.
“We need additional forest management authorities and resources for active management and we need them now,” Gosar said. “If Congress does not act, more lives and property will be lost.”
Gosar hinted at the irony that his Democratic colleagues have made things like the Green New Deal, estimated to cost $93 trillion, their legislative priorities while disregarding the relatively simple solution to addressing one of the biggest producers of environmentally harmful atmospheric gasses.
“My colleagues on the other side of the aisle often exaggerate the impacts of carbon dioxide, but the facts are, the best way to sequester carbon is through healthy forests,” Gosar said.
As Democrat leaders undertake negotiations with the White House to reach a new agreement on infrastructure funding, Westerman would welcome bipartisan support for America’s natural resources, similar to what he received last session.
Several of the provisions from his bill wound up being included in the omnibus Farm Bill passed in December.
But with the newly radicalized opposition party pushing its agenda to the Left, that could pose a challenge to the bill’s passage.
Eco-groups like California’s Earth Island Institute have previously disputed that forest thinning efforts result in better forest management and fewer fires.
And the radical activist-legal group Earth Justice has referred to the bill as a “gift to the timber industry” despite its emphasis on reforestation.
In reality, the bill’s efforts to block costly injunctive litigation in order to redirect funding and resources where they belong—fighting forest fires—would undermine a key portion of the activist strategy for pushing their green agenda through the courts and forcing industry to pay the costs.
Those legal fees ultimately get passed onto consumers in housing and construction costs, as well as creating a limited supply of lumber to meet the demands of the market, noted Chuck Roady, vice president and general manager of F.H. Stoltze Land and Lumber.
“Millions of board feet of timber and thousands of acres of forest health treatments are held up in litigation across the country,” Roady said. “The need to actively manage our forests and keep our mills running has never been more apparent.”
The result is a double-whammy for those left homeless by the Left’s infernos in their efforts to rebuild their lives.
“Knowing firsthand what it is like to look into the eyes of a family who has lost everything in a wildfire, I want to ensure that we are as proactive as possible in identifying and addressing the sources of the problem,” said Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif.
“Now is the time to act on proper forest and land management, not when there is an emergency,” Hunter said.