(Washington, DC) – As the Dixie Wildfire continues to burn through three counties in Northern California, destroying homes and thousands of acres of forestlands, Congressman Doug LaMalfa joined with Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Montana, and others to introduce the Forest Litigation Reform Act. This legislation would prevent litigation from impeding responsible forest management practices needed to conserve the nation's forests and mitigate wildfire risk by streamlining the litigation process and creating an alternative dispute process to resolve claims against forestry management projects to be resolved through arbitration.
“Litigation reform is needed to help prevent the huge wildfires we are experiencing across the West. Radical environmentalists have weaponized the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act and are using frivolous lawsuits to block nearly every management project or salvage sale that the U.S. Forest Service proposes,” said LaMalfa, R-Richvale. “This means that needed work is delayed making our forests even more vulnerable to fire. Rep. Rosendale’s bill would make much needed reforms and prevent lawyers from blocking needed hazardous fuels reduction projects.”
Rosendale explained, as wildfires rage across Montana, it is clear that the country's legislators must do more to responsibly manage the country's forests to ensure healthy forests and mitigate the risk of catastrophic fires.
“It is far past time for us to put a stop to the constant barrage of frivolous litigation from radical activists aimed at halting forest management activities. The Forest Litigation Reform Act is a commonsense approach to fix this abuse of our judicial system and ensure we can manage our public lands sustainably,” Rosendale added.
According to Bruce Westerman, House Committee on Natural Resources and Natural Resources ranking member, Rosendale’s Forest Litigation Reform Act of 2021 will do just that, allowing much-needed projects to proceed on federal lands. As a critical component of larger solutions like the Resilient Federal Forests Act, we will be able to work through these critical projects and prevent wildfires from devastating rural communities, critical wildlife habitats and economies.
“Every year, we continue to see record-breaking wildfires devastate communities and the way of life across the West. Every year, it also becomes more difficult to address the cause of the fires because of frivolous and obstructionist lawsuits that delay and cancel critical forest management activities. It needs to stop now,” he added.
Joining in sponsoring the Act, Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, said he is proud to co-sponsor the Act to circumvent frivolous lawsuits from delaying forest management.
“This legislation would not only prevent extreme environmental groups from funding lawsuits with taxpayer money, but it would speed up the process for resolving claims in order to lessen the impact on projects. We cannot allow the manipulation of the judicial system to slow down the prevention of dangerous wildfires and conserving our forests,” he added.
LaMalfa represents California’s First Congressional District, including Butte, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou and Tehama counties.