Rep. Obernolte introduces bill to promote reforestation, salvaging of timber to improve forest management
U.S. Congressman Jay Obernolte (R-Calif.) introduced the Salvaging American Lumber Via Action with Greater Efficiency (SALVAGE) Act on Tuesday to improve forest management and decrease the risk of wildfires by expediting salvage and reforestation operations on federal lands. The bill will give more flexibility and expediency to forest management on federal lands, helping to lower fire risks, decrease the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere, and protect communities across California and the West.
“We know that the best way to address our catastrophic wildfire issue is by implementing comprehensive forest management strategies on our natural lands, but all too often federal regulations designed to protect our public lands have the unintended consequence of preventing actions to protect our environment and our communities from the impacts of wildfires. The SALVAGE Act addresses this problem.” said Rep. Obernolte.
“In recent years, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of record-breaking wildfires in the West. Decades of neglect and lack of proper forest management have led us here with devastating effect. Congressman Obernolte’s SALVAGE Act would provide critical steps needed in the rehabilitation and reforestation process to create healthy forests by expediting necessary salvage procedures. I am grateful for Congressman Obernolte’s leadership on this issue and look forward to having it be a part of the larger Resilient Federal Forests Act,” said House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.)
The SALVAGE Act creates a categorical exclusion from environmental assessments and environmental impact statements for salvage and reforestation operations carried out on National Forest System or public lands. It also creates expedited procedures for environmental assessments in cases where the categorical exclusion was not used, streamlines salvaged timber sales, and prohibits restraining orders or injunctions against salvage and reforestation operations. In areas like California’s 8th Congressional District, where 90 percent of the land is federally owned, this change in law would substantially improve forest management and prevent wildfires that threaten local communities.