YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Republicans from the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources hosted a field hearing at Yosemite National Park to discuss current forest management practices, and the work needed to prevent future wildfires both in the state and around the county.
The message was simple, forests are overgrown, and the policies to manage them are too restrictive.
They say if that doesn’t change, more catastrophic wildfires will be on the horizon.
“Excess timber will come out of the forest. And it comes out in only two ways. Either we will carry it out, or nature will burn it out,” said California Congressman Tom McClintock.
According to the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources, wildfires have burned roughly 8.7 million acres in California over the past five years.
That’s 22% of the total acreage burned across the country.
Republicans say the National Environmental Protection Act restricted thinning forests, which they say has provided more and more fuel for wildfires and has cost not only millions of acres but taxpayer dollars, businesses, homes, and lives.
“A simple forest management plan now takes an average of four-and-a-half years to complete. The environmental studies now exceed 800 pages they cost millions of dollars,” said McClintock.
The Republican members also hosted state residents who have felt the harsh effects of wildfires firsthand.
Like Dr. Dave Daley, who came nearly 250 miles from Butte County.
He is a fifth-generation rancher who recently lost everything in a wildfire.
“The fire that destroyed my herd and my family legacy was the north complex of the Bear Fire, which destroyed the town of Berry Creek, killed 14 more people, and basically, burnt everything I’ve ever known in my entire life,” he said.
Republicans at the hearing called to amend NEPA, as some members blamed Democrat environmentalists.
Daley just asked that something gets done, before the beautiful forests ever-so-visible at Yosemite, look like the charred “moonscape” of his home.
“I wish we could quit blaming people and look for solutions. And you know, if we can do that in California, which is not an easy place to do that, I would encourage federally to try and make that work,” said Dr. Daley.