(Washington, D.C.) Fire season is rapidly approaching forests across Eastern Washington. Few will forget 2006, when trees weakened by pine beetles fueled the 175,000 acre Tripod fire that burned the Okanogan National Forest.
With that fiery past in mind, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers today co-chaired a hearing about the devastating impact the Mountain Pine Beetle had and continues to have on forests across the Western United States.
McMorris Rodgers, ranking member on the Water and Power Subcommittee, listened as representatives from local, state and federal agencies, conservation groups and business groups shared their suggestions about how stop the infestations.
In her opening remarks, McMorris Rodgers suggested that healthy forests depend upon a responsible forest management plan.
“We waste valuable taxpayer dollars fighting wildfires when we could have prevented them in the first place. In fact, over half of our Forest service budget goes to fighting wildfires and that will only get worse if we don’t address the root of the problem – overcrowded forests and diseased and dying trees. We can’t continue to grow over 20 billion board feet of timber annually and only harvest two billion board feet and expect to have healthy forests,” she said.
In Congress, McMorris Rodgers has advocated for more timber harvests to prevent overgrown forests from becoming a breeding ground for disease and fire.