"Without forests, we are out of business. That's why we'll continue to work with Republicans and Democrats on needed reforms that will help to sustain our forests and protect our forests and communities from wildfire"
HEMPHILL, Texas (PRWEB) November 13, 2018
As debate rages over the cause of catastrophic wildfires, the American Loggers Council (ALC) says it's time to put partisan politics aside and focus on solutions that reduce the risks to lives, property, and natural resources. The ALC was formed in 1994 to serve as a unified, national voice for professional loggers across the United States. Made up of a coalition of state and regional logging associations and councils, the ALC represents more than 30 states across the U.S.
"President Trump blamed poor forest management for wildfires in California and throughout the West, and there is truth to statements he has made," said ALC Executive Vice President Daniel Dructor. "Others focus solely on climate change, but there is truth that drought and changing conditions are contributing to the problem. It's time to rise above political posturing and recognize that active forest management- including logging, thinning, grazing and controlled burning- are tools that can and must be used to reduce fire risks and help mitigate the impacts to landscapes."
In California and many states, the forests most prone to catastrophic wildfires are owned by the federal government. Approximately 60 to 80 million acres of national forest lands are at a high, to very high, risk of catastrophic wildfire. Data from the Forest Service indicates that thinning and prescribed burns reduce wildfire intensity and improve forest health, yet only a small fraction of high-risk acres are being treated. To increase the pace and scale of needed treatments, Dructor says the Trump Administration and Congress should expand public-private partnerships to efficiently and effectively manage forests at risk of catastrophic wildfire, insect infestations and disease.
"The federal government does not have resources to treat every forest by itself," Dructor said. "Yet America's forest sector has the infrastructure to manage and improve the health of our federal forests. The raw excess material from overgrown forests can provide renewable energy and a number of American-made products and provide thousands of family-wage jobs."
"It is no accident that the U.S. Forest Service is struggling to reduce fire risks in places such as California and the southwest, where this infrastructure has been allowed to disappear due to the decline of timber harvests on federal lands. By partnering with the private sector on economical forest projects, the federal government can not only reduce the risks but have additional resources to support other values such as expanding recreation on public lands and protecting and enhancing wildlife habitat.
ALC strongly supports forest management reforms that enable federal land managers to implement proactive and science-based forest management activities. ALC President Chris Potts of Alabama said Congress should include such reforms in the next Farm Bill, as well as give federal agencies the resources they need to confront the country's wildfire crisis.
"Loggers are America's 'boots on the ground' to conserve our forests and reduce the risks of wildfire," Potts says. "We work in the woods every day, we understand forestry and see the dangers every day, and we know what needs to be done. Without forests, we are out of business. That's why we'll continue to work with Republicans and Democrats on needed reforms that will help to sustain our forests and protect our forests and communities from wildfire."