Arkansas Congressman Bruce Westerman’s bill to change how federal forests are managed passed in the U.S. House on Wednesday and is headed to the Senate. Last year a similar version of Westerman’s Resilient Federal Forests Act passed the House but stalled in the Senate. The Republican lawmaker tells KUAR this time around he expects better results in the upper chamber.
Listen to the full interview in the link posted above.
"The administration wants to see it put in place, so we've got the administration helping to push it through the Senate," said Westerman. "This issue is important enough, I've made several trips out West, and I don't think we're getting the full picture in the national media just how devastating these wildfires are. This isn't just a forest health issue it's become a public health issue. There's a lot of momentum to get this done this year."
He continued,"But we are dealing with the Senate. It may even be something that has to get attached on another bill before the end of the year."
While Westerman touts the bill as a way to scientifically manage overgrown forests, a number of opponents have come out of the woodwork like the Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association, and the Center for Biological Diversity. Generally, opponents contend it’s not really about wildfires but instead a ploy to get rid of environmental reviews and public comment periods in order to open up off-limits federal land to timber and logging companies. KUAR aired some of those voices in late October.