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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho) spoke at an Energy and Natural Resources hearing about the devastating wildfires raging in the western United States, and landmark forest management reform legislation he has cosponsored to protect forestland and communities during wildfire season.

“Right now, there are more than a dozen fires burning thousands of acres throughout Idaho, the vast majority of which are located on federal lands. Years of insufficient forest management have turned the West into a tinderbox,” said Risch. “There are many factors that make wildfires spread, but regular fuel reduction is a critical and indisputable strategy to prevent wildfires of this magnitude from spreading.”

Risch continued, “I am proud to cosponsor the Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act, and would like to thank my colleagues Senator Daines and Senator Feinstein for their leadership in introducing it. This bill offers commonsense solutions to these commonsense problems by improving our ability to reduce these fuels and improve our forests and protect communities in a productive, collaborative way.”

Remarks have been lightly edited for clarity.

To watch the rest of Senator Risch’s remarks, click the video below.

To watch on YouTube, click here.

To download the video file, click here.

The hearing considered a number of bills, including two of Senator Risch’s legislative priorities: the Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act of 2020, sponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.), and the Modernizing Access to Our Public Land (MAPLand) Act, sponsored by Senators Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) and Angus King (I-Maine). The House companion bill for the MAPLand Act is sponsored by Rep. Russ Fulcher (R-Idaho).

More about the bills:

S. 4431, the Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act of 2020: Will increase active management of federal forests and give the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies additional tools to protect communities from deadly wildfires.

S. 3427, the Modernizing Access to Our Public Land (MAPLand) Act: Will enhance access to the nation’s outdoor recreational opportunities by digitizing mapping information like access points and permissible uses on federal public lands.

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