Washington, D.C. July14, 1988: Legislation to help restore National Forest lands and improve future firefighting capabilities authored by Northern California Congressman Wally Herger has been adopted by the House Agriculture Committee. The legislation, which was based on a number of recommendations made by Congressman Herger’s blue ribbon Fire Recovery Task Force, was incorporated as an amendment to a bill reforming wildfire protection procedures by Forestry Subcommittee chairman Harold Volkmer.

Herger’s amendment establishes a National Commission on Natural Resource Disasters, which will make recommendations to the Secretary of Agriculture on rehabilitation needs and policy changes to improve future firefighting capabilities.

Also incorporated into the legislation enacted by the Committee was a Herger fire task force proposal for establishing an annual training program operated by the Forest Service to permit volunteers living in fire prone areas to become certified in firefighting techniques. This will enlarge the available pool emergencies in places such as Northern California.

A third proposal accepted by the Committee, which was also a key recommendation of Herger’s local task force, requires the Secretary of Agriculture to submit to Congress annually a report documenting local mobilization plans for firefighting equipment in each area of the National Forest system which is highly prone to forest fires.

“I am pleased that Congressman Volkmer and the members of the Committee have adopted these reforms which will improve our ability to protect our National Forests, and support the local economy of areas which are dependent on forest lands,” Herger said after the amendments were adopted. “I feel confident that this legislation will soon be considered favorably by the full House. This would be a tremendous victory for the people of Northern California, including those who have worked with me on the Fire Task Force.”

The amendments incorporate the substance of Herger’s bill H.R. 4647, introduced prior to the Subcommittee’s hearings held in Redding May 19. “I am convinced that Chairman Volkmer’s visit to Northern California was extremely valuable in speeding action on my legislation,” Herger said. “I believe the testimony the Subcommittee heard while it was in our area was persuasive, and enabled members to better understand the extent of the problems caused by the fires. As a result of the enactment of this legislation, I believe we will be more prepared for future fire emergencies which may occur,” Herger concluded.

Article extracted from this publication >> July 22, 1988