McInnis forest bill clears hurdle |

McInnis forest bill clears hurdle

A bill by U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis to allow more logging in national forests to reduce wildfire risks survived another important committee vote yesterday and advanced to the House floor.

The House Judiciary Committee approved the Forest Health Restoration Act by an 18-13 vote. The full House will likely consider the measure next week.

“I think it’s clear that the urgency of getting control of this volatile situation was impressed upon the members of the committee as they considered the bill [Wednesday],” said McInnis in a prepared statement. “For the sake of our communities and for the sake of the environment, we can’t delay on moving forward with this critical wildfire risk reduction measure.

“Any further attempts to disrupt its passage will only obstruct efforts to get a handle around a threat that is quickly spiraling out of control – it’s time for Congress to move forward and act on this legislation.”

His comments were a thinly veiled effort to deflect widespread criticism from the environmental community and other legislators. U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, a Democrat from Boulder, is opposing the bill because it doesn’t earmark enough of the logging effort in so-called red zones, where forests and communities merge.

Foes also said the bill strips the public of rights like appealing U.S. Forest Service decisions on projects.

Udall said recently that the bill might earn approval in the House but will face a tougher time in the Senate.

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