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Farm Bureau backs fire aid package

WASHINGTON—Critical summer Idaho range goes up in smoke this past week near Cambridge forcing ranchers to move cattle weeks early.

The Idaho Farm Bureau along with the American Farm Bureau and 11 other Farm Bureaus want US lawmakers to support the Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act. The Farm Bureau’s Ryan Yates says the legislation would provide wildland fire managers more resources to fight and prevent catastrophic fires.

“The Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act represent a great bipartisan step forward in an attempt to give federal land managers additional tools that help them better manage our federal forests, especially out west. And when it comes to looking at a fire season like we are having in 2020, it really identifies the need for continued active management on our federal lands,” said Yates.

The legislation will emphasize forest management, accelerate post-fire restoration and rehab, and remove dead and dangerous brush from national forests.

“There’s a number of mechanisms and tools available to federal land agencies and prescribing those types of management actions vary from landscape to landscape. And so, any new tool and authority that could give those agencies better resources and control overactive prescriptions to ensure that these landscapes are safe and resilient for the future is certainly a positive thing,” said Yates.

While the legislation will help mitigate future fires, it won’t address the immediate needs of farmers and ranchers suffering devastating losses from fires burning right now. Yates says the 2020 fire season demonstrates the need for this legislation.

“It is a natural part of the ecosystem, but what we’re seeing today is certainly far from natural, and we need to actively manage these lands to ensure that when wildland fire does happen, that it happens in a way that it doesn’t explode into a massive wildland fire,” added Yates.