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Congressional Oversight Hearing on Fire

On March 16, 2022, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform held hearing that lasted a little over two hours on the role of forest management and fire. You can watch the hearing here.

The hearing scratched the surface on an immense topic. Wildfire is related to climate, logging, firefighting tactics, Native American practices, and the question of how to protect communities. The Oversight Committee’s hearing just scratched the surface. But, the committee invited the public to submit comments on the hearing.

FOC submitted comments and discussed the increasing body of science that provides evidence on the following:

  • Climate and weather, not fuels, primarily drive fire severity
  • Fire severity is not greater where fire has been absent
  • Old and mature forests, if protected, can play a positive role in countering impacts form high-severity fire
  • Thinning is not the solution for high- or even low-severity fire
  • Protecting people and structures from wildfire starts with smart zoning and continues with defensible space where it matters most: right around the house

Because climate change, which is causing droughts and longer periods of hotter temperatures, is responsible for the increased fire activity, solutions should involve in mitigating the carbon emissions. Logging can contribute up to three times the carbon emissions that its proponents purport that logging can save by altering fire behavior. So, our solutions involve protecting the forests we have. FOC’s comments and supporting scientific citations can be reviewed here.

We also teamed up with Friends of the Bitterroot and the Klamath Forest Alliance in creating a fact sheet on the Forest Service’s practice of building excessive firelines where they degrade natural resources and where they cannot benefit communities. We submitted the below fact sheet on firelines.

Congressional oversight needed for wasteful fireline construction


And the pictures to accompany the fact sheet, assembled from across the west in Oregon, California, Idaho, and Montana are below.

FIRELINE pictures (small)

We sincerely hope that this hearing is only the beginning of several other investigations, one that critically examines how the US Forest Service uses taxpayer money to degrade forests in the name of fire.