Livestock groups Friday praised House passage of a wildfire prevention bill that includes measures to improve forest management and ensure healthy federal lands.
The bill, Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act, H.R. 1526, passed on a 244-173 bipartisan vote. It was sponsored by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings R-Wash.,
"Millions of acres across the West burn each year, leaving many communities devastated and a whole lot of livestock with nowhere to go," Brice Lee, president of the Public Lands Council, explained in a press statement.
"This wildfire package could save the livelihoods of thousands of ranchers on and near public lands."
According to PLC, key provisions of the bill include reforming the regulatory review process in high-risk areas, allowing needed fuel-reducing activities such as livestock grazing and logging to go forward.
The bill will also increase state and local involvement in wildfire prevention and improve rural schools, infrastructure and overall economies by increasing timber harvests, PLC said.
While opponents of the bill say it would weaken laws that protect federal grounds by increasing logging and exempting some lands from federal protections, National Cattlemen's Beef Association President Scott George called the legislation "a bright spot in an otherwise gridlocked Congress."
"This bipartisan vote speaks to the simple truth of the matter: endless regulations and pseudo-environmentalists' litigation is creating a tinderbox," George said. "It's bad for ranchers, communities, wildlife, watersheds, air quality—all of the above. We need a change."