In Case You Missed It: Walden leads call to action on forest management reform
In Case You Missed It: Walden leads call to action on forest management reform
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Continuing his efforts to improve the way our federal forests are managed, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River) led several calls to action recently on the need to pass forest management reform. Walden, joined by his colleagues on the Congressional Western Caucus, stressed the need for Congress to fix broken federal forest policy that leads to catastrophic fires in Oregon and much of the West.
“As we saw painfully this summer, smoke chokes our citizens, it chokes children. In my district, elementary school children had to be sent home because of smoke in their schools because of forest fires,” said Walden in a speech on the House floor. “In Oregon, we’ve seen some of the worst fires in our state’s history. It seemed as if every day came with new reports of more fire and more smoke. While this year’s fire season has been particularly intense and devastating, images like these are nothing new for Oregonians.” Walden continued, standing beside a constituent photo of the Eagle Creek fire burning between Cascade Locks and Hood River.
Walden also led a hearing before the Energy and Commerce Committee -- where he serves as chairman -- to examine the air quality impacts of wildfire, held a press conference with Congressional leaders on the need to pass the Resilient Federal Forests Act, and gave the Western Caucus Weekly Address where he discussed the horrific wildfire season that burned over 678,000 acres in Oregon.
Continue reading for more on Walden’s recent efforts.
Greg Walden leads hearing on air quality, health impacts of wildfires in Oregon
On Wednesday, Rep. Greg Walden led a hearing to call attention to the air quality, environmental, and health impacts of wildfire smoke. Walden, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said examining the impact of devastating wildfires on air quality needs to be part of the broader conversation on forest management reform.
Wildfire season may be creeping to a close in northeast Oregon, but the fallout is just beginning to ramp up in Washington, D.C.
The House Committee on Energy and Commerce, chaired by Rep. Greg Walden (R-Oregon), will hold a hearing Wednesday examining the impacts of large fires on air quality, releasing massive amounts of particulate matter and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
“Year after year, catastrophic wildfires rage on federal lands, including parts of my district, and our skies are choked with smoke throughout the West,” Walden said during a Sept. 13 House committee hearing. “Air quality issues in my home state continue to rise to dangerous levels because of these fires, forcing cancellations of community events, school closures and lost tourism dollars.”
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality maintains 35 air particulate monitors statewide, including one in Pendleton. Between July 1 and Sept. 6, the local air quality index was listed as “moderate” for 13 days, “unhealthy for sensitive groups” for five days, “unhealthy” for one day and “very unhealthy” for one day.
Greg Walden applauds wildfire funding request, call for forest management reform from administration
Later Wednesday, Rep. Walden applauded additional wildfire funds and a call to action on forest management reform from the administration. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) included $576.5 million in wildfire funding in their supplemental budget request to Congress, as well as recommendations that active forest management and forestry reform be part of the solution to curb wildfire borrowing. Walden led a letter signed by a bipartisan group of 31 lawmakers to OMB Director Mick Mulvaney to ask that wildfires be treated like natural disasters, and that the administration work with Congress to pass forest management reforms. For full text of Walden's letter, please click here.
Walden cheers Trump administration wildfire funding and call to action on forest management reform
Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., applauded word of additional wildfire funds and a call to action on forest management reform in a supplemental budget request Wednesday from the Trump administration.
The Office of Management and Budget included $576.5 million in wildfire funding in their supplemental budget request to Congress on Wednesday, as well as recommendations that active forest management and forestry reform be part of the solution to curb wildfire borrowing.
"I want to thank the Trump administration for their request for funds to cover the costs of this fire season, as well as their call for Congress to reform our broken federal forest policy that hinders them from implementing much needed forest management," Walden said.
"Another fire season winds down and, once again, the Forest Service needed to rob money from important fire prevention work to pay for fighting wildfires," he said. "We must not only supplement those accounts to pay for the cost of this fire season, but it’s past time that we fix how we pay for fires and treat them like the natural disasters they are.”
Walden applauds extra firefighting funding request
U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River) is pleased that the Office of Management and Budget added $576.5 million in wildfire funding in the supplemental budget request to Congress. He also praised OMB for recommending that active forest management and forestry reform be a part of the solution to curb wildfire borrowing.
"I want to thank the Trump administration for their request for funds to cover the costs of this fire season, as well as their call for Congress to reform our broken federal forest policy that hinders them from implementing much-needed forest management,” he said. “Another fire season winds down and, once again, the Forest Service needed to rob money from important fire prevention work to pay for fighting wildfires.”
Walden, along with the Democratic members of the Oregon delegation to Congress argue that the cost for fighting big wildfires should come from disaster funds, not the fire prevention budget of the U.S. Forest Service.
Walden, western members of Congress hold press conference on wildfire threat
On Thursday, Walden held a press conference with his colleagues on the Western Caucus to discuss the current wildfire threat in the western United States, a fix to so-called “fire borrowing”, and legislation to improve management of the country’s federal forests. Walden discussed the importance of passing the Resilient Federal Forests Act, introduced by Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Arkansas), which would help bring proper management back to federal forests.
“We need this bill passed so we can go in and have our professional, scientific foresters do their work to get back in balance with nature,” said Walden of the Resilient Federal Forests Act. “We need to pass this so we can protect our watersheds, so we can have healthy air sheds, and so we can replant after these forest fires.”
Greg Walden delivers Western Caucus Weekly Address
Finally, Walden delivered the weekly address for the Congressional Western Caucus. During the address Walden discussed the horrific wildfire season that burned over 678,000 acres in Oregon, and further addressed the need to reform federal forest policy to prevent catastrophic fires.
“The bottom line is: Enough is enough. Dense fuel loads from a lack of management, caused by red tape and gridlock leave a tinderbox in our forests waiting to ignite,” said Walden in his address. “It is long past time for Congress to reform how federal forests are managed. If we do not act, these fires will continue to destroy our lands, pour carbon and pollutants into our atmosphere, threaten habitat and water supplies, and put people and property in harm’s way. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Western Caucus to get this job done.”
To read more about the Congressional Western Caucus, please click here.