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FIRESHEDS Act seeks to manage forests, restore forest health, better equip states  

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho) today introduced the Forest Improvements through Research and Emergency Stewardship for Healthy Ecosystem Development and Sustainability (FIRESHEDS) Act to increase active forest management in high fire risk areas.

“Years of federal mismanagement have transformed Idaho’s once-healthy and productive forests into a tinderbox. These misguided policies have led to extreme fuel buildup and hampered timber economies all in one,” said Risch. “The FIRESHEDS Act is the solution for America’s forest health crisis by advancing rapid and aggressive management and empowering on the ground land managers to reduce fire risk.” 

U.S. Congressman Blake Moore (R-Utah) introduced the House companion bill, and Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) are original cosponsors on Senator Risch’s bill.

“Over a billion acres of land in the U.S.—including nearly one-third of Forest Service lands—face the escalating threat of wildfires. Even with this year’s snowpack, the historic drought season in states like Utah, California, Idaho, and across the West amplify the risk of wildfire,” said Moore. “In the past decade alone, 75 million acres have burned, threatening our communities, our health, and our environment. The FIRESHEDS Act will empower our land managers with cutting-edge technology to target the high risk firesheds with landscape-scale treatments. By expediting analysis and review of forest management practices, we can protect public health and safety, restore watershed health, improve critical habitat, and safeguard critical infrastructure. I am proud to lead this crucial effort as our nation continues to tackle threats from wildfires.”

Over a billion acres of land in the United States are at risk for wildfires, including one-third of all Forest Service lands. Over 70 million acres have burned in the last decade, indicating serious changes in land management strategies are needed to combat this trend.

Supporters of the FIRESHEDS Act include the Idaho Forest Group, the Associated Logging Contractors of Idaho, the American Forest Resource Council, the American Forest & Paper Association, the American Property Casualty Insurance Groups, the Hardwood Federation, the American Loggers Association, and the National Association of Counties.

The FIRESHEDS Act will:

Reduce the risk and severity of catastrophic wildfires in the West by:

  • Utilizing cutting edge Forest Service fireshed research and mapping to triage the top 10% highest risk "firesheds"—landscape-scale areas identified to be high fire risk; and
  • Targeting large scale treatments in the highest risk firesheds, which can address 85% of overall wildfire threats.

Restore forest health by:

  • Expediting analysis and review of forest management projects to increase the pace and scale of treatments that protect public health and safety, restore watershed health, improve critical habitat, and safeguard critical infrastructure.

Better equip local land managers and strengthen state authority by:

  • Allowing governors to enter into joint agreements with land management agencies to specifically designate fireshed management areas and expedite management projects; and
  • Codifying shared stewardship and encourage local input and collaboration through community wildlife protection plans and the use of resource advisory committees.

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