Editor's Note:  While Dr. Hessburg makes some good points about reducing the risk of megafires, this could easily be solved if we did two things:  Abolish the unconstitutional Bureau of Land Management and return the unconstitutionally owned lands of the central government back to the citizens of the states in which that land occupies.  We already know that the BLM has been engaged in setting their own fires and destroying property in the process.

Forest Service fire ecology researcher Dr. Paul Hessburg has been touring communities in the Western states with a 70-minute presentation called MegaFires.

A shortened version of his presentation can be viewed at this TEDx site:

The presentation outlines Dr. Hessburg's assessment of the causes and pattern of fuels accumulation on federal forest lands.  He also gives some recommendations for reducing hazardous fuels and restoring forest lands to a "fire resilient" condition.

However, his presentation fails to mention federal legislation that would immediately set our country on a course to address hazardous fuels that contribute to "megafires."  The Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017 (H.R. 2936) would streamline the process needed to restore federal forests to a healthy, more fire resilient state.

The text of H.R. 2936 can be read here.

This legislation should receive bipartisan support for all of these reasons:

  • Federal forest resources belong to all of us
  • The costs of our nation's fire suppression workforce and activities are paid by all taxpayers
  • Catastrophic fire affects forest resources valued by "producers" and "environmentalists" alike
  • The costs of "megafire" evacuations, resource rehabilitation, house insurance payouts, and health impacts from smoke far exceed the $1 billion price tag for annual fire suppression actions
  • Catastrophic fires claim firefighter and citizen lives

I urge citizens throughout the U.S. to contact their representatives to ask them to co-sponsor H.R. 2936.  Please also contact your senators and ask them to introduce companion legislation in the Senate.

The Resilient Federal Forests Act needs to be passed NOW so the Forest Service and BLM can begin planning fuels reduction actions this winter, in preparation for implementing those actions during the 2018 field season.

Every year of delay means millions more acres of federal forest resources will go up in smoke - with associated impacts to adjacent wildland-urban interface (WUI) zones, community water supplies, wildlife and fisheries habitat, and recreation and cultural resources.

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