San Bernardino County Fire Protection District Chief Dan Munsey recently testified before Congress in support of new public lands legislation authored by Congresswoman Young Kim (R-Fullerton), stating the bill would help County Fire prevent deadly wildfires and subsequent debris flows.

Chief Munsey testified before the Federal Lands Subcommittee on Jan. 31 in support of the Restoring Our Unopened Trails for Enjoyment and Safety (ROUTES) Act. The bill directs the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture to reopen recreational facilities such as campgrounds, trails, and visitor centers within two years following a natural disaster.

“It has been frustrating to watch fires get bigger and it has been frustrating to not allow local resources to respond and assist the federal government in preventing these emergencies,” Munsey told members of Congress. “We represent 66 communities. Eighty percent of our land mass is federal land. These communities are surrounded by your land areas. It is very important to us that we have access to these federal lands in order to effectively respond to and prevent emergencies.”

Importantly, the ROUTES Act categorically excludes certain restoration activities from having to prepare an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA). This exclusion sets an important precedent for expedited debris clearing, fuel reduction, forest management, and infrastructure repairs following natural catastrophes on federal lands.

The hearing can be viewed on the committee’s YouTube channel. Chief Munsey’s testimony begins one hour and 10 minutes into the recording.

While in Washington, Chief Munsey also met with lawmakers representing San Bernardino County to advocate for federal funding to support local fire and emergency services provided on federal lands.

Additional County Update News – February 15, 2024

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