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Mike Garcia Cosponsors Bipartisan Bill to Improve Forest Management, Reduce Wildfire Risk in California 

The Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2021 includes Garcia’s PROTECT Act

Representative Mike Garcia (CA-25) cosponsored the bipartisan Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2021, which would take critical steps to address the environmental and economic threats of catastrophic wildfires.

Representative Mike Garcia (CA-25) cosponsored the bipartisan Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2021, which would take critical steps to address the environmental and economic threats of catastrophic wildfires. The Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2021 was introduced by House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-AR) and includes Garcia’s Protecting and Restoring Our Trees by Enhancing Conservation and Treatments (PROTECT) Act. The Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2021 would address the continuing threat of wildfires by restoring forest health, increasing resiliency to wildfire, and supporting the economic revitalization of rural communities. 

“I am proud to be an original co-sponsor of the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2021,” said Garcia. “For far too long, our federal forests have remained locked up. Decades of forest mismanagement have resulted in our forests being overstocked tinderboxes waiting to burn. This bill removes burdensome regulations that will allow the Forest Service to better implement needed, proven  forest management practices to better prevent these catastrophic fires from occurring.” 

The Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2021 provides federal land managers the tools necessary to pursue forest management practices, without sacrificing environmental standards. This allows the managers to mitigate insect infestations, prevent damage to watersheds, and harvest trees destroyed by wildfires within a crucial timeframe that will go towards re-developing a healthy forest. These efforts will also improve wildlife habitat for several forest-dependent species. 

“I am pleased that my bill the PROTECT Act was included in this larger federal forest management package,” said Garcia. “We can’t wait for our forests to burn to take action. We need to do better at preparing for and preventing wildfires. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in Congress to pass needed reforms to our federal forest management policy so that we can better protect our communities and the environment.”

Garcia, who serves on the House Committee on Appropriations, also secured language within the FY2022 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill that encourages the Department of the Interior to utilize prescribed burns. The language also requires a report 180 days after enactment detailing any barriers to implementing prescribed burns in the western United States, possible solutions to said barriers, and an estimate of fire damage in 2020 that could have potentially been avoided had the agencies implemented a more robust prescribed burn regime.

Key provisions of the bill include:

• Utilizing state-of-the-art science to triage the top 10 percent of high-risk firesheds.
• Simplifying and expediting environmental analyses to reduce costs and planning times of critical forest management projects while maintaining thorough environmental reviews.
• Speeding up essential forest management projects by ending frivolous ligation.
• Giving the Forest Service the necessary tools to restore watersheds, improve wildlife habitat and protect critical infrastructure and public safety in wildland-urban interfaces.
• Accelerating reviews for salvage operations and reforestation activities to encourage quick reforestation, remove dangerous hazard trees and economically revitalize rural areas.
• Incentivizing collaborative projects of up to 30,000 acres to increase the pace and scale of active management. 
• Creating new, innovative authorities that increase tribal management of forestlands.
• Codifying the principles of shared stewardship and permanently reauthorizing the Good Neighbor Authority to ensure states are equal partners in forest management activities.
• Removing cumbersome interagency consultation requirements that delay forest management activities and attract obstructionist litigation.
• Expanding and improving existing authorities to address insect and disease infestations and increase resiliency to wildfires.

Read the full bill here.

Read more about Garcia’s PROTECT Act here.