Legislature To Examine Arizona Forests Health, Protections Proposed

On January 12th at 10:00 a.m. in Senate Hearing Room 1, the USDA Forest Service and the Arizona State Forester will present updates on the health and status of our national and state forests.

1. USDA Forest Service Southwestern Regional Overview by Regional Forester Cal Joyner
2. Arizona State Forestry Update by Arizona State Forester Jeff Whitney•
3. Arizona’s National Forests’ Updates:

Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest – Wendy Jo Haskins, Deputy Forest Supervisor
Coconino National Forest – Laura Jo West, Forest Supervisor and Scott Russell, Deputy Forest Supervisor
Coronado National Forest – Kerwin Dewberry, Forest Supervisor
Kaibab National Forest – Heather Provencio, Forest Supervisor
Prescott National Forest – Teresa Chase, Forest Supervisor
Tonto National Forest – Neil Bosworth, Forest Supervisor and Tom Torres, Deputy Forest Supervisor
Discussion items will include: Fire Management/Drought; Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI); Partnerships; Travel Management; Mining; and Forest Plan Revisions.

In response to the devastating Arizona forest fires such as the Wallow, Rodeo-Chedesky Complex and the Yarnell fires, Rep. Mark Finchem believes “it is clear that the USFS has demonstrated it is incapable of adequate forest management with policies from afar.”

As a result, Finchem has prepared legislation that would “empower officials for cities, towns and counties who may determine that a catastrophic nuisance exists on state or federal land located within the borders of the city, town or county.” The bill that will be ready to introduce next Wednesday, “would also empower officials to take action if in evaluating a catastrophic nuisance exists, when considering tree density and overall health of forested areas (including the fire regime condition), insect and disease infestation, fuel loads, forest and range type, slope and other natural characteristics of an area, watershed protection criteria, weather and climate conditions and other unique conditions specific to the community as may be observed.”

“The communities of Heber and Overgaard were left to burn by the very organization that the public trusted to protect it during one such catastrophic fire,” stated Finchem. “We cannot allow that to happen again.”