Democrats, Wildfire Expert Will Press for Forest Service Funding, GOP Climate Change Acknowledgment at Tomorrow’s Forest Hearing

Washington, D.C. – Democrats at tomorrow’s Federal Lands Subcommittee hearing on federal forest management will stress the need to address climate change-related wildfire risks and reject Republican demands to weaken bedrock environmental laws in order to increase commercial logging on public lands.

Climate change is leading to longer and more severe wildfire seasons characterized by more – and more intense – wildfires that the U.S. Forest Service is not being given adequate funding to combat. The U.S. National Climate Assessment notes that “projected climate changes suggest that western forests in the United States will be increasingly affected by large and intense fires that occur more frequently.” According to Forest Service scientists, wildfires in the United States will be twice as destructive by the middle of this century.

“Republicans look at climate change burning down our nation’s forests and tell us the solution is to stop thinking so much and just cut trees down faster,” said Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today. “That’s a ridiculous approach. Try telling your neighbor, let alone a professional forester, that our woods are burning not because of climate change but because of the Endangered Species Act or the National Environmental Policy Act and you’ll get laughed out of town. Serious forest policy has to account for climate change making our forests drier than ever and fund Forest Service fire prevention adequately, and Republicans refuse to do either.”

Largely due to the way Congress budgets for wildfires, more than 50 percent of the Forest Service budget is consumed by wildfire suppression activities. The issue demands bipartisan cooperation and a Republican willingness to admit that starving the Forest Service of resources and then blaming it for not having enough money is only worsening our wildfire problem.

The Democratic witness at tomorrow’s hearing, Dr. Tonia Schoennagel from the University of Colorado at Boulder, is the lead author of a recent paper that examines wildfire trends in the Western U.S. She will discuss the importance of addressing climate change and other key findings of her recent work.

Press Contact

Media Contact: Adam Sarvana

(202) 225-6065 or (202) 578-6626 mobile