Maycumber bill to help state manage forest fuel loads receives public hearing in Olympia

Legislation that would allow the Department of Fish and Wildlife to use best available science practices when managing state forests received a public hearing in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee in Olympia today.

Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber, R-Republic and prime sponsor of the measure, said the state needs more tools in its effort to properly manage forests and protect citizens from future devastating wildfires.

“With two of our state's worst wildfires taking place in the last four years attention must be placed on prevention and our forest management practices,” said Maycumber. “As fuel loads build within the confines of state lands, the Department of Fish and Wildlife needs to address the situation quickly and effectively. Giving them the authority to use the best available land management techniques, like clearing brush or sheep grazing, is a step in the right direction.”

Rep. Maycumber testifies on HB 2175 in Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, Jan. 9th, 2018

Under Maycumber's proposal, House Bill 2175, the land management practices would include:

  • License or approvals to move firewood or for brush picking;
  • Periodic use application of Department of Agriculture-approved chemicals by licensed personnel;
  • Issuance of right-of-way easements and use permits to use existing roads in nonresidential areas; and
  • Issuance of grazing leases regardless of whether the land has been actively grazed.

These activities would be exempt from the requirement to prepare an environmental impact study under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), which is usually a 24-month process.

“Giving the department this authority has become necessary to help prevent catastrophic wildfires,” said Maycumber. “The citizens of this state have lost millions of acres to high temperature fires resulting in soil erosion and acidity. This in turn creates a wasteland where nothing will grow for years to come. We must be proactive in our efforts to protect our forests and our property. Existing rules under SEPA shouldn't stand in the way of healthy forests and smaller fires.”

Maycumber's bill was one of the first to receive a public hearing during the opening week of the 2018 legislative session.

The 60-day session started Monday, Jan. 8.


Washington State House Republican Communications