8.7 Forestry & Fire Management
(Updated September 2018)
NASDA strongly supports the efforts of state forestry agencies and continued cooperation between them and state departments of agriculture. Signified by the inclusion of the Forest Service within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), forestry is closely related and often intertwined with production agriculture. With nearly two-thirds of U.S. forestland state and privately owned, states play an integral role in managing our nation’s forests in a sustainable manner. Moreover, states provide a wide range of conservation, forest health, and fire management services and assistance through the Forest Service’s State & Private Forestry programs.
Rangelands are subject and vulnerable to extremely large range fires as in the past; suppression costs are extremely high and the risk to wildlife, homes, human life, wildlife habitat, and grazing lands increases with an increasing population. Livestock numbers have been reduced to a fraction of what they once were and a massive buildup of fuels has resulted from an extremely small percentage of the annual forage being grazed by livestock. Knowledge and technology exists to cope with extreme fire seasons by using fire resistant plant species in reseeding efforts following fire occurrence. Livestock grazing is the most cost-effective, natural, productive tool for reduction of excess fuel and an effective tool in the reclamation of burned areas.
- NASDA strongly supports the Forest Service’s State Fire Assistance (SFA) and Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) programs. These programs provide financial and technical assistance to state and local fire departments for wildland fire prevention and suppression. While USDA can provide farmers and ranchers with disaster assistance for wildland fire damage to crops, fencing, and livestock, wildland fire prevention can limit the frequency and severity of fires as well as suppression and recovery costs.
- NASDA strongly opposes the budgetary practice of fire borrowing, and encourages Congress to pass legislation to fund federal wildfires off-budget as many states already do, and ensure the federal land management budget for restoration, recreation, road maintenance, hazardous fuels reduction, and wildlife/watershed protection is fully restored if fire borrowing occurs.
- NASDA strongly urges the Bureau of Land Management and other land management agencies to seed more fire resistant plant species such as edible browses and crested wheat grass following a fire to reduce the spread of cheat grass, future suppression costs, fire size, and wildlife and private property losses; and propose the use of livestock grazing as a resource management tool and deterrent to wildfire and encourage flexibility in using livestock as part of the rehabilitation process after a burn.