Tipton bill gives local officials say on forests

A measure that would give local officials greater influence over nearby national forests garnered support from Western House Republicans in its second go-round.

The Healthy Forest Management and Wildfire Prevention Act, HR 818, by U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., is the same measure that passed the House Natural Resources Committee in the last session of Congress.

The U.S. Forest Service is “suffering from paralysis by analysis” in dealing with issues such as insect infestations, fire prevention and other management issues, Tipton said Tuesday during an oversight hearing of the subcommittee on public lands and environmental regulation in Washington, D.C.

Tipton’s measure could help cut through a “complex array of statutes and regulations, some of which conflict,” Idaho Gov. Butch Otter testified, noting that the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management “have not utilized the tools that Congress has provided,” such as the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003.

Tipton’s measure, which is cosponsored by Reps. Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman and Doug Lamborn, all Colorado Republicans, would allow governors, in consultation with county commissioners from affected counties, as well as affected Indian tribes, to designate high-risk areas and develop emergency hazardous fuels-reduction projects for them.


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