May 30, 2003
DOMENICI PRAISES ADMINISTRATION’S PROPOSED AND FINAL FOREST RULES AS CRITICAL TO SAVING SMALL TRACTS
CONGRESSIONAL ACTION STILL NEEDED TO PROTECT 190 MILLION ACRES
Washington, D.C. – Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Pete Domenici today praised the Interior and Agriculture Departments for swiftly crafting proposed and final forest management rules aimed at protecting small tracts of drought-stricken forests from devastating fire. Domenici’s statement: “These rules are critical to protecting small tracts of our national forests from wildfire. The Administration moved swiftly to announce final rules before the fire season began. That means we can start as early as next week to clear dead and diseased wood from small tracts of land. It’s a strong start. But it’s not nearly enough. The Administration estimates that 190 million acres are at risk for the kind of catastrophic fire that charred seven million acres last summer and has scorched more than 17 million acres in the last three years. Congress must act this year to protect these vulnerable forests. The American people will no longer tolerate management by catastrophic fire. The President has proposed, the House has passed and the Senate will soon consider healthy forest legislation. Earlier this year, I announced that comprehensive forest management legislation was one of my top three priorities. My committee has held several hearings on this problem; we will hold another one again next month and I look forward to marking up legislation later this summer. My congratulations to Secretaries Norton and Veneman for moving swiftly to propose these solutions, garner extensive public input and issue final rules in time to make a difference this year. Had rules like these existed three years ago, catastrophic fire in my home state of New Mexico might have been averted.