RGS in the News
RGS Director of Conservation Policy testified before Congress on November 5, 2015. The following covers that Congressional committee meeting.
The original article “Senate Ag Committee wants to snuff out ‘fire borrowing'” by Whitney Forman-Cook was posted on Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc. website on November 5, 2015 here: http://www.agri-pulse.com/Senate-Ag-Committee-wants-to-snuff-out-fire-borrowing-1152015.asp.
WASHINGTON, Nov. 5, 2015 – The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee took on the hotly debated topic of “fire borrowing” for the first time during a Thursday hearing, and even went as far as to publicly agree to try to end the practice.
USDA’s Forest Service (USFS) and the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are forced to “borrow” funds from the budgets of their other programs to suppress wildfires every year.
Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said in his opening statement that this “disruptive” strategy ends up gutting funding for “vital activities like preventive active forest management and hazardous fuels reductions” that ironically, help to prevent wildfires from starting.
“Forest stewardship projects… throughout the West are essential for the development of young forest habitats where elk, deer, moose and other game and non-game wildlife prosper,” testified Daniel Dessecker, director of conservation policy for the Ruffed Grouse Society.
“Hunting is big business,” Dessecker said. Elk and deer hunters number around 11 million nationally, he said, and contribute “a substantial portion of the $34 billion” hunters generate for the U.S. economy.
“We have to increase our efforts to address” the health of young forests – away from fighting fires – so that “species of great ecological… and economic importance” can survive, he continued. “A failure to do so… would be irresponsible.”