Press Releases

House Passes Bill to Improve Forest Health

Congressman Simpson votes to move forward conversation on fire borrowing and forest management

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson voted in favor of legislation that would advance effective forest management and address the issue of fire-borrowing. H.R. 2936, the Resilient Federal Forests Act would promote collaborative forest management, reduce frivolous litigation, and modernize the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act. Included in the package is Congressman Simpson’s bipartisan H.R. 1483, the Litigation Relief for Forest Management Projects Act which would reverse a disastrous court ruling that has created duplicative steps in projects intended for conservation and forest health. H.R. 2936 passed the House by a vote of 232-188.

“Idahoans know all too well about the devastating impacts of catastrophic wildfires,” said Congressman Simpson. “The air quality in the summer, the evacuations from our communities, and the resources it takes to fight fires are all serious problems in Idaho. That is why Congress needs to act. I am pleased this legislation addresses the litigation issues that have halted far too many projects and promotes collaborative forest management provisions that seek to improve the health of our forests.”

“We also need to fix fire-borrowing,” said Simpson. “The rolling-ten year average, which is used to calculate the cost of wildfires, has decimated the Forest Service budget. Wildfire funding is anticipated to consume two-thirds of the total Forest Service budget by 2021 if we don’t change the current budgeting process. The status quo leaves little room to fund programs that actually prevent wildfires and reduce overall costs. That is why I proposed a solution to fix this problem.”

Congressman Simpson introduced H.R 2862, the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act (WDFA) which is bipartisan legislation that had 150 cosponsors in the 114th Congress. The bill would treat wildfires like other natural disasters and eliminate the need for fire-borrowing.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance the needed reforms in both my Wildfire Disaster Funding Act and H.R. 2936 so we can curb the cost of wildfire suppression funding and protect our landscapes and communities from the catastrophic fires we have sadly grown accustomed to in the west.”