WASHINGTON, D.C. - During a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing to receive testimony on a discussion draft entitled Wildfire Budgeting, Response and Forest Management Act of 2016, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) continued his fight for wildfire funding reform and improvements to our nation's forest management system. The committee received testimony from U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment Robert Bonnie and U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Wildland Fire Director Bryan Rice.
The hearing comes as the U.S. Forest Service continues to fight the Dog Head Fire in New Mexico.
During his opening statement, Senator Heinrich underscored that the burning of the Dog Head Fire overlaps with a collaborative forest project, which includes partners like the Nature Conservancy, Isleta Pueblo, and Chilili Land Grant. After the Forest Service had given its approval to the project, it took two more years for the project partners to come up with funds to start the work, and still, only 7,000 of the 12,000 acres in the project were treated before the Dog Head Fire started. Senator Heinrich made clear that though project approval is only the first hurdle to getting work done to make our forests healthier, "without a robust and stable budget, all the process streamlining in the world doesn't get trees cut."