Washington, DC…Earlier this week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Amendment 554 by Representative Tom McClintock (R-CA). This amendment added language to HR 2954, a wider public lands package, that would expedite the post-Rim Fire timber salvage process on federal Forest Service lands around, but not within the boundaries of, Yosemite National Park. The bill would allow for an expedited environmental review process for salvage and restoration projects in those areas, dramatically decreasing the amount of time and costs associated with completing these activities.
House Amendment 554 was one component of a package of several bills passed by the House which address public lands issues. The Administration and critics both within and outside of Congress were quick to oppose the amendment and the package, and, to date, neither California Senator has expressed support.
In the meantime, salvage and restoration work has commenced on large swathes of private lands ravaged by the fire. Additionally, the United States Forest Service (USFS) has proposed, and is working through the approval process for, restoration work on nearly 30,000 acres of dead trees that are endangering citizens or roadways. USFS estimates that they should be through their environmental review and other processes on these acres by April, with work starting in August.
RCRC is encouraging Congress to find ways to expedite restoration work in and around Yosemite National Park and throughout the counties devastated by the Rim Fire. Additionally, RCRC is urging Congress to ensure continuing funding for fire prevention efforts throughout the state and the west, and to not overlook the need for increased forest management while focused on the important work of aiding those regions devastated by the Rim Fire.