From the AFRC newsletter:
The reconciliation package would also provide the Forest Service with $14 billion for forest restoration and hazardous fuels reduction projects over ten years. $10 billion would be restricted to activities inside a narrowly defined Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) and $4 billion could be used outside this area. Unfortunately, the funding includes other nonsensical policy restrictions that would make the activities unimplementable.
For example, the legislation would require that every acre of WUI be “effectively treated to prevent the spread of wildfire” before the $4 billon in non-WUI funding could be spent. The Forest Service would likely face litigation based on this impossible standard. Meanwhile, if the agency miraculously treated every acre of WUI, the legislation restricts the $4 billion that can be spent outside the WUI to projects that are “non-commercial” in nature and comply with additional restrictions for old growth and “ecological integrity.”
Here is the text of the bill.. sounds like a wish list developed by (some but not other) ENGO’s. Based on my previous work, rounding up different ENGO’s points of view on hazardous fuel treatments, this sounds like the writers of the legislation listened to some and ignored others. I wonder why the ones who did were so predominant, and why the D’s from affected areas didn’t express concerns (or weren’t they listened to, or is this bill so big and moving so fast they didn’t have a chance?). Whichever it is, it is of concern that so much money would go for things that are designed to satisfy a relatively small contingent of interests.
The problem is that the science is leaning toward strategic fuel treatments designed to support suppression activities and help them protect key ecological attributes and watersheds, along with communities. So these legislators aren’t keeping up with current thinking.
) $10,000,000,000 for hazardous fuels reduction projects within the wildland-urban interface;
3 (2) $4,000,000,000 for, on a determination by
4 the Secretary that hazardous fuels within the
5 wildland-urban interface have been effectively treated to prevent the spread of wildfire to at-risk communities, hazardous fuels reduction projects outside
8 the wildland-urban interface that are—
9 (A) noncommercial in nature, except on a determination by the Secretary, in accordance 11 with the best available science, that the harvest 12 of merchantable materials is ecologically necessary for restoration and to enhance ecological integrity, subject to the requirement that the 15 sale of merchantable materials shall be limited
16 to small diameter trees or biomass that are a
17 byproduct of projects under this paragraph;
18 (B) collaboratively developed; and
19 (C) carried out in a manner that—
20 (i) enhances the ecological integrity and achieves the restoration of a forest ecosystem;
23 (ii) maximizes the retention of old growth and large trees, as appropriate for the forest type; and
I got a chuckle out of “Secretary’s determination” that the “harvest of merchantable materials is ecologically necessary for “restoration” plus the sale of merchantable materials shall be limited to “small” diameter trees.. It seems to me that harvest will never be necessary, when you can always take the material offsite and burn it in piles instead.
Which doesn’t seem to fit any type of climate-related at all. Removing material can be good, selling them is bad, so burning them in the air exuding carbon and particulates is better. And as I’ve said before, it doesn’t seem like this country has so much money that we can afford to legislate out selling material. Some would say, particularly so if this bill passes.
There are a variety of other odd and chuckle-worthy bits in this bill- even just in the forest section. And it’s highly casual with large sums of money. If I had a D rep, I’d be reaching out.