I’m continuing efforts to grow jobs in rural communities and better manage our public lands. Four times in the past four years, the U.S. House has passed bipartisan legislation to help reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire, grow jobs in the woods, and improve forest health. It would also stop the endless cycle of “fire borrowing,” where the federal government is forced to use wildfire prevention funds to pay for fighting fire. The Senate should finally pass this common-sense plan.
While work continues on that broader overhaul, Congress has successfully boosted resources for wildfire fighting and prevention programs, funding fire suppression operations for the Department of the Interior and the Forest Service at the full 10-year average. We’ve also increased funding for hazardous fuels reduction activities to improve forest health.
Federal agencies across the board need to do a better job listening to local communities affected by land management decisions. That’s why I’m doing everything I can to stop a proposed 2.5 million acre national monument designation around the Owyhee River in Malheur County. The area is already protected by seven layers of government rules and regulations and the local community voted against the idea by a 9:1 ratio. As their voice in Congress, I gained approval in the House to prevent funding for such a declaration. I’ve also stood up against wilderness proposals on the Ochocos and at Crater Lake that have faced strong local opposition and would severely limit recreational access and fire management. I’ve worked hard to find common ground on wilderness proposals in the past (like on Mt. Hood and the first cow-free wilderness area on Steens Mountain), but these plans work best when local citizens are involved and supportive.
I’ll continue to work on solutions to bring more reliable water and power to Oregonians (like the Bowman Dam legislation that will help bring more jobs, water and power to Prineville), promote access to public lands, and reduce unnecessary red tape coming out of the federal bureaucracy in Washington, D.C.