Maycumber bill to address high fuel loads in forests passes state House

'Waiting around for an environmental impact statement to collect dry, dead firewood or allow quick, targeted grazing while our world around us burns to the ground is unacceptable,' says Maycumber

Under legislation passed today by the state House of Representatives, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife would be allowed to use best available land management techniques to quickly address high fuel loads in forests susceptible to wildfires.

House Bill 2175, sponsored by Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber, R-Republic, would exempt certain activities from the requirement to prepare an environmental impact study under current State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) rules.

“We need the state to step up and be good stewards of our public lands,” said Maycumber.  “This is one more tool for the state's land managers to use to protect our forests from catastrophic fires.

“Waiting around for an environmental impact statement to collect dry, dead firewood or allow quick, targeted grazing while our world around us burns to the ground is unacceptable,” Maycumber continued.  “If we have an unusually wet spring and there's an overabundance of grass, we need to address that.  The catastrophic fires that result in extremely high temperatures leave moonscapes behind with high acidity and soil erosion.  In these areas nothing will grow for generations.  This is not the legacy I want my children to inherit.”

The Department of Fish and Wildlife currently manages about one million acres in 33 wildlife areas, including 700 public water-access sites.  Maycumber said it's important for the state to make an active shift towards being proactive in protecting state lands.

“This really is a case of preventing environmental catastrophes with proper forest maintenance,” she said.

Maycumber explained she was disappointed her bill was watered down by an amendment in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.  However, she was able to work with both House Republicans and Democrats to amend her original language back onto the bill via an amendment on the House floor.  The bill then passed the House with a unanimous vote.

“We have places in my district and other areas in central Washington that will never see anything substantial grow there in my children's lifetimes,” said Maycumber.  “Getting people in Olympia to comprehend that level of devastation takes work; it takes meeting with them, showing them pictures and walking them through the differences between a small wildfire and the high temperature ones from the past few years.  I'm grateful we were able to get the bill back to its original intent and I'll be working with my Senate colleagues to get this through the next stage of the legislative process.”

House Bill 2175 now moves to the Senate for further consideration.

The 60-day 2018 legislative session is scheduled to end March 8.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov