Forest Service assessing post-wildfire erosion risk
Forest Service also plans to finalize 4FRI contract awards later this month
Today, Arizona Senator Mark Kelly secured commitments from U. S. Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen to bring all resources to bear on suppressing and recovering from the Telegraph and Mescal Fires in Arizona. Testifying before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Chief Christiansen told Senator Kelly that Forest Service Burn Area Emergency Response (BAER) teams would begin work today to assess wildfire damage and the increased risk of post-fire flooding.
Kelly also asked Chief Christiansen about the timeline for issuing contracts for forest thinning projects under the second phase of the Four Forests Restoration Initiative (4FRI). Chief Christiansen responded that the Forest Service plans to make an announcement this month on a contract award but that offers could extend into July. 4FRI projects have been hampered over the years due to delays in the contract review process at the Forest Service and the lack of a sustainable wood products market in Arizona.
Sen. Kelly speaks during this morning’s ENR committee.
Wildfire response and forest health have been a focus of Senator Kelly’s work on the Senate committee which has jurisdiction over the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, federal agencies that manage most of the federal land in Arizona. Last weekend, Senator Kelly met with evacuees in Globe, Arizona, and was briefed by the fire teams assigned to the Telegraph and Mescal fires. After his meetings, Kelly wrote to President Joe Biden, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Criswell, Department of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, and Department of Interior Secretary Haaland urging them to take swift action to deploy Burn Area Emergency Response teams to the fires, conduct damage assessments, and deploy post-fire recovery and flood mitigation projects for impacted lands and communities, including the San Carlos Apache Tribe. In May, Kelly visited the Ecological Restoration Institute at NAU to hear about the Institute’s research into forest restoration and efforts to build a sustainable timber market in Arizona.
To watch Senator Kelly’s full remarks, click HERE.