O’Halleran Demands Congressional Hearing on Wildfires

September 15, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON—Today, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) sent a letter to House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson and House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva asking that the pair work together to host a joint hearing between the two Committees to explore the federal role in reducing fire risk.

“Wildfire has become a devastating threat to citizens in communities across the nation and climate change is clearly contributing to the increase in conditions that allow fires to grow to hundreds of thousands of acres,” O’Halleran wrote. “Similarly, federal policy that promoted full suppression has caused forests to become even more prone to fire. A hearing is necessary to educate members and the public on the costs of fire, the suffering and damage to human life fire causes, the acreages burned, and what we can do to reduce risk, particularly in the wildland urban interface, where we are currently seeing death and destruction.”

O’Halleran asked that the joint hearing answer several important questions:

1) Congress implemented the fire funding fix during the 115th Congress to more readily fund fire suppression efforts without the need to use non-fire funding. How well has this worked and has the resulting budgetary stability resulted in increased work related to fire prevention and risk reduction?

2) How has budgetary stability changed staffing resources, particularly regarding fire prevention and forest management?

3) In the 2018 Farm Bill, stewardship contract length was increased to 20 years. This modification has the capacity to ensure that forest restoration is done sustainably, over the long term, to reduce risk, and provide jobs. How are these contracts being used to improve forest health and reduce risk to devastating forest fires?

4) How have stewardship contracts and projects such as 4FRI improved forest resiliency?

View O’Halleran’s letter HERE.