U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham offered an amendment to the Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act (H.R. 1526) Friday, which he says will assist in cleaning up following the disastrous Rim Fire.
The amendment will waive judicial review of any timber salvage project resulting from a wildfire in 2013. It was approved by the House of Representatives by a 243-172 vote.
“The permitting process is typically fraught with problems, lawsuits, delays and frustrations,” Denham said. “My hope is that this amendment will speed up timber salvage projects on the acres burned in this tragic fire and that the timber can be used for much-needed jobs benefiting local economies throughout the state and nation.”
The amendment limits litigation against salvage logging operations working in wildfire-affected areas. Denham says the bill also jump-starts the economy, as wood will be sent to local mills creating jobs and tax revenues for impacted counties.
“While no amount of money can recoup the damage and the danger of the Yosemite Rim Fire, we need to help our communities by removing the red tape currently forcing them to suffer more,” Denham said.
The Act as a whole requires increased timber production on commercial national forest land. Denham's representatives say the bill improves forest health by reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfires – like the Rim Fire.
Since Aug. 17, the Rim Fire has burned 4,00 square miles in the Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park, making it the third largest fire in California history. It is currently 84 percent contained.
Approximately 25 percent of the Turlock Irrigation District watershed was burned by the Rim Fire, with 12 percent of the watershed severely burned. The water, used to irrigate TID growers' farms, may come quickly in flood-like conditions, and will likely be full of soot and other debris.
TID expects the federal government to assist in dealing with costs of the Rim Fire's impacts.