The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday passed H.R. 2647, the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015, which contained Congressman Cresent Hardy’s (NV-4) amendment to empower the Secretary of the Interior to protect and better manage National Forest System Lands and public lands to improve, restore or reduce the risk of wildfire on those lands.

“With my amendment, this bill not only keeps our forests healthier, but it is going to benefit ranchers in Nevada, by better caring for rangeland,” Hardy said. “It will address the disastrous consequences of catastrophic wildfire and other threats to our nation’s federal forests and rangelands and federal agencies’ current inability to meaningfully address those threats. Noxious weeds and other invasive species are a major impediment to resilient forests and rangelands and also negatively impact crucial wildlife habitat. Federal agencies must be able to remove and temper the spread of these noxious and invasive species in a timely and effective manner.”

Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-4), the bill’s sponsor, praised Hardy’s amendment, following the bill’s passage, 262 to 167:

“Congressman Hardy’s amendment demonstrates strategic foresight by protecting crucial forest and rangeland habitats in a way that helps ensure the livelihood of ranchers while also conserving these precious natural resources,” Westerman said.

Specifically, Hardy’s amendment to the bill:

  • Empowers the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to implement projects that will immediately reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire while also improving crucial habitats on rangelands and forests.
  • Utilizes certain grazing practices to combat the invasive species that increase the likelihood of catastrophic wildfires, which benefits ranchers and forest and rangeland health alike.
  • Will simplify environmental process requirements, reduce project planning times and reduce the cost of implementing forest and rangeland management projects, while still ensuring robust protection of the environment through thorough environmental review.

Congressman Cresent Hardy represents Nevada’s 4th Congressional District. He serves on the House Committee on Natural Resources, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and the House Small Business Committee.