The Boone and Crockett Club is applauding the U.S. House of Representatives for its vote to improve wildlife habitat and funding mechanisms for fighting wildfires.
The House on July 9 passed H.R. 2647, the "Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015," sponsored by Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) and supported by 26 national sporting and conservation organizations. The bill contains many of the best ideas for forest management considered by Congress over the last several years.
The bill next moves to the Senate.
"H.R. 2647 removes some of the administrative obstacles that handcuff forestry professionals, and we are very pleased to see this important bipartisan bill advance out of the House," said Morrie Stevens, Boone and Crockett Club president.
Key provisions include:
• Enabling the Forest Service to carry out multiple forest health projects of the same kind based on a single environmental analysis instead of having to repeat that analysis for each project saving precious time and resources.
• Allowing the Forest Service to rely more heavily on collaboration in developing projects, which will result in less legal controversy after each decision.
• Providing for active forest management by supplying funds for rural schools and for a revolving fund that helps speed faster planning of restoration.
• Allowing the Forest Service to tap disaster funds during bad wildfire years when the costs exceed what Congress has appropriated, thereby protecting other accounts that fund recreation and thinning projects from being depleted.
Stevens said research supported by Boone and Crockett shows that overgrown forests are starving grounds for elk, even in the spring when growth is greatest. Similar problems affect deer, game birds and other wildlife. The portion of national forests in this condition has been expanding for years.