Press Releases

Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala D. Harris (both D-Calif.) today called on Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to explain how the U.S. Forest Service is using new statutory authorities provided by Congress to reduce wildfire risk and expedite wildfire prevention actions.

“Given the threat facing California of yet another catastrophic wildfire season, we write to ask how the Forest Service is making use of new forest management authorities provided by Congress to reduce the risk of wildfires and protect our communities,” the senators wrote. “We also ask that you provide details regarding hazardous fuels projects that have already cleared all environmental reviews but still lack funding.”

Full text of the letter follows:

July 30, 2019

The Honorable Sonny Perdue
Secretary of Agriculture
United States Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250

Dear Secretary Perdue:

Given the threat facing California of yet another catastrophic wildfire season, we write to ask how the Forest Service is making use of new forest management authorities provided by Congress to reduce the risk of wildfires and protect our communities. We also ask that you provide details regarding hazardous fuels projects that have already cleared all environmental reviews but still lack funding.

Last year, Congress provided the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management with substantial new statutory authorities to reduce wildfire risk and expedite wildfire prevention actions. Both the Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus spending bill (Public Law 115-141) and the 2018 Farm Bill (Public Law 115-334) included provisions that give federal land managers new tools to address forest management challenges that are being exacerbated by climate change.

As Congress continues its Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations process, it would be helpful to know specifically how the Forest Service is using existing statutory forest management authorities and how many projects are ready to go but for lack of funding.

Thank you in advance for answering the attached questions, and we look forward to continuing our partnership to protect the health of California’s forests and improve the safety of millions of Californians.

Sincerely,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

Kamala D. Harris
United States Senator

Enclosure: Questions on use of existing Forest Service authorities in Region 5

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