Legislation would support active forest management projects like those coordinated by MDF to improve forest health
Salt Lake City, UT: The Mule Deer Foundation (MDF) thanks U.S. Congressman Bruce Westerman for introducing the Resilient Federal Forests Act (RFFA) that would provide the U.S. Forest Service with the tools needed to improve forest health and make them more resilient to wildfires. The legislation would target forest management projects on the top 10% of federal forests at the highest risk for catastrophic fires and provide tools for post fire restoration and reforestation. Provisions in the legislation would also codify shared stewardship projects like those undertaken by the Mule Deer Foundation in national forests across the West that benefit wildlife and reduce the risk of stand-replacing fires.
“The Mule Deer Foundation appreciates Representative Westerman’s leadership on forest management and welcomes the introduction of the Resilient Federal Forests Act,” commented Mule Deer Foundation President/CEO Joel Pedersen. “Our national forests provide important habitat for mule deer and black-tailed deer, but the same conditions that are setting the stage for catastrophic wildfires also deteriorate the quality of the habitat for deer and other wildlife species. Active forest management projects like those coordinated by MDF can help improve these forests for wildlife while also protecting local communities from wildfire.”
Forests across the West evolved with periodic low-intensity fires that helped clear the understory and create a mosaic of habitat types. However, insect and disease infestations coupled with decades of fire suppression have led to overgrown forests. with dense underbrush that provides the ladder fuels that take small ground fires up into the forest canopy creating far more intense fires. These catastrophic fires destroy wildlife habitat, damage watersheds that provide community drinking water, and threaten people living along the wildland/urban interface. Active forest management projects like timber thinning, clearing of understory brush, prescribed burns, and other activities can replicate the natural disturbance cycles to provide a mosaic of habitats while also reducing potential for catastrophic fire. The Mule Deer Foundation leads a variety of shared stewardship projects in coordination with the U.S. Forest Service to implement these techniques and improve our federal forests.
“The Resilient Federal Forests Act will help ensure the stewardship projects that MDF and many other collaborative partners are leading will continue to improve forest conditions to be more resilient to wildfire,” Pedersen concluded. “We look forward to working with Rep. Westerman and other members of Congress to ensure federal forest management legislation is enacted.”
The Mule Deer Foundation is the only conservation group in North America dedicated to restoring, improving and conserving mule deer and black-tailed deer and their habitat, with a focus on science and program efficiency. MDF is a strong voice for hunters in access, wildlife management and conservation policy issues. MDF acknowledges regulated hunting as a viable management component and is committed to recruitment and retention of men, women and youth into the shooting sports and conservation. Get involved in your state or become a member at www.muledeer.org or call 801-973-3940.