Republican News

Republican News

May 11 2004

DOMENICI URGES FOREST SERVICE TO RAMP-UP FIRE PREVENTION IN WESTERN, TINDER-DRY FORESTS

Decision to ground tankers requires increased prevention

Washington, D.C. – Senate Energy & Natural Resources Chairman Pete V. Domenici today urged the U.S. Forest Service to ramp-up its efforts to treat western forests left dry and vulnerable to wildfires in the wake of extended drought and bug infestation. Domenici called on the Forest Service to maximize its treatment efforts following a full-committee hearing this morning on this year’s wildfire risk and federal preparedness. Chairman Domenici’s statement: Several western states – including my state of New Mexico – have suffered devastating loss from wild fire in the last few years. We’ve lost towns, neighborhoods, wild life, watershed and, most tragically, human life. I appreciate that the Forest Service has done more than its ever done before to treat vulnerable forests, particularly those near homes. Last year, the agency treated 2.6 million acres. This year, it expects to treat just under 4 million. But we have 90 million acres at critical risk for wildfire. Much of it is land near homes and municipal watersheds. We can’t take 25 years to treat this land. The Forest Service hopes to one day be able to treat 10 million acres a year. I urge the agency to make that day sooner rather than later. As chairman of the Energy & Natural Resources Committee and chairman of the Energy & Water Appropriations Subcommittee, I will continue to work tirelessly to get additional funding to help the Forest Service prevent and fight wildfires. In return, we need more from the Forest Service. I urge agency chiefs to streamline its strategies and procedures. I recommend the agency more accurately assess the actual cost of this effort and ask Congress for what it needs at the beginning of the annual appropriations process, not late in the year when the agency is in crisis. Finally, I ask the agency to maximize the impact of every dollar and the efforts of every man and woman engaged in this important effort. ###