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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  November 5, 2015 6:00pm-8:01pm EST

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life is ruined because of a drug addiction or a mistake. that makes no sense. mandatory minimums, the sentences that come from, why don't we just trust our judges to do a good job? but it takes republicans and democrats to work together. i think mike and i are kind of enjoy the fact that when we announced it is, you look at the lineup of senators, including the new chairman of the judiciary committee, senator grassley, it went across the political spectrum. that is the only way these days you're going to get something passed. ..
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>> >> but we have to vote on a. congress is not the most highly rated organization in this country these days i've been if they started to debate and voted on them
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things would change. >> but was senator mcconnell and then it would pass? >> because both leader mcconnell and speaker wright and but the good news is we had a vote a couple of weeks ago of which senator leahy and rebel serb. -- we both served. but we got it out of committee. is a good omen with the fact that chairman grassley is supportive of it i think we have a good chance to get it passed. but to be identified as one of the issues, this is simply an american ideal according to who we are in
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day understand. >> what about keeping your republican colleagues supported? >> as senator leahy said a minute ago the biggest challenge that we face those to say i don't support this bill because i am tough on crime. overwhelmingly those who think that are those who have not read the bill yet or justice pour in me to understand the stories behind them and like to tell the story one of the things that got me into this ironically when i was a federal prosecutor in my office there was a young man in his young '40's and prosecuted for selling
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marijuana in small increments over a 72 hour period. he had the gun on his person the wave the case was charged resulted a statutory minimum mandated sentence of 55 years. had told me -- two young children 55 years in prison he will be almost 80 her by have never met a single person anyone not even the judge to a post the sentence that believes it was just. he issued an opinion at the time to save this is a travesty but i have no choice my hands are tied only congress can fix the problem that is a problem and wanted to try to redress
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-- address. >> and what happened. >> he is still in prison. i had his children and my office a couple years ago i have given the lead while working on this bill. >> sometimes people say but we have to do is law enforcement never served law-enforcement in my personal office the only thing with my name is my plaque and my bags to remind me of these issues. when you have mandatory minimums that one size fits all, anybody who has been a prosecutor or a judge or in law-enforcement knows that one size does not fit all.
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and we make a horrible mistake if we tried to do that. we have got to change this. california's three strikes you're out but then people were locked up for life at $50,000 a year for stealing a toaster for shoplifting. they were almost bankrupted by its. we work together on the usa freedom act to change the way nsa could listen to us. if we get a coalition of republicans and democrats we got it done. and strongly believe if the
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congress is relevant, we have got to come to some of these issues. but there are so many things where they can come together. let's start working on it and frankly our bill, the president has told me if we pass that he will sign it in a minute. >> but let's style back to understand what lessons you have learned from previously working together but in the institution is the increasingly silent. so how did this odd couple come together? you are the unlikely duo you mention a law enforcement but out of 100 members, how did you hook up?
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>> a few months ago we were working together on the usa freedom act that dealt with a collection of metadata under section 215 of the patriot act getting rid of the collection of the bulk metadata pro was calling him so much by way said you talked to him more than you talk to me. [laughter] restarted working together where they soon after i started at the senate. i recognized early on we shared a lot of things in common that we are both former federal prosecutors who understand the power of government needs to be restrained.
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individual liberty is paramount to we are as a society and no where does that need to be restrained to protect more than in the case of private conversations over the telephone, over e-mail and especially of long term incarceration. lows almost all involve heavy intrusion by government. that is what brought us together on projects like the usa freedom act. and those that we hope to be passed into law and criminal justice reform. >> is a political policy? >>. >>. [laughter] you are so safe i am just assuming.
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>> no. [laughter] not a problem in billy's. the american people expect us to work together and find areas where we can achieve common ground. i don't intend to stop finding areas. >> i am the only democrat elected to the senate but i came to the senate the senior senator was stafford evident he took me under his wing and said i'll give you some of vice work across the aisle. work together. when you form a coalition is when you get something done.
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if you get experience and that is one to work with that talk about privacy you have a sense of privacy very quickly to the profile but then he said senator leahy is part of the vote for gore your relative? no. are you a friend? know. is he expecting you? know. never heard of him. [laughter]
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>>. >> he has never called me in that direction. [laughter] >> it your collaboration with issues of privacy which is your take away of what doesn't work anymore? very many people are struck with the old tools of power is business as strong anymore for those independent leaders? how do you make things happen out? or what doesn't work nobody used to? >> i keep asking myself that question.
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there is not enough to work things out. you'll always be the leader of your own party but there are certain things of the times that you could work out just by consent. we could disrupt that to get on the evening news. we don't spend enough time developing personal relationships your. when i first came here we were in session campaigns didn't cost like they do today said they have fund-raisers all the time. you woodworker across the aisle and would know each
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other and that made it different. everybody thinks on the floor but fortunately i have a nice office in the capital and we have had meetings there come was to just sit down and talk without everything word -- every single word recorded. again when i first came here encourage june you to take trips together i remember harry reid once asked john mccain to come to a caucus of everybody to talk as a
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prisoner of war. you could have heard a pin drop in that room it is all life story maybe we should treat each other as individuals not just adversaries. >> you think the power of the committee chairman has waned or does that make your job easier or harder? >> of course, the committee chairman has the power but the most important thing to chair a couple major committees how to have a piece of legislation.
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tuesday it will not go anywhere. although the bill that we just passed, that was a lot of work. but these are the only ones that really do pass. the usa freedom act the majority leader had a different idea and we had the enormous coalition. and the senate. and that is to affect americans so its chairman determines when the bill comes up.
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you have to have that coalition. >> there is the sense some of your colleagues is a design they could get that back? >> i explained from what i wrote a few weeks ago the american people are experiencing a the benefits of the decentralization of power. with the information economy
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makes it sold the old centers of power within the economy no longer have that hegemony that similar things will have been in congress but not every decision has to be made they will have more people that served in both houses of congress who will participate in the spirit of legislative and entrepreneurship that the power goes more and more to bring canned phial. -- rank-and-file. i have some issues with it but i think we should embrace this change that is coming and we will see a lot more members those who are
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willing to work across the aisle the only way to get anything done. >> will pc more government shutdown? >> no. i don't know any member of the senate who wants to see the government not funded. i don't see that as the public. where we've put everything together as part of a package with the binary choice at the end of the year of the funding period. that is something that needs to come to an end to so
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there is not a single by terry choice. -- by neary choice. >> i agree with that. i can tell you i wish me to do each one of the bills. maybe that is so wise way to duet with a two year budget cycle to probably save money because the agency's could plan better but but to vote on the defense bill or for the operations bill. and if you have the amendments, , forget the writers. or a special interest group.
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i think the government would run better and the congress should be exerting its power of the purse. just like now with a continuing resolution we say if we like the president or not we're not being very specific and what we put in here. we have to go back to that. it is more work but now you're running from the house or the senate because you expect a vacation you make a mistake and i think most members want to do the work and get it done. >> and with another share
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project with patent reform that is as controversial. my colleagues would ask you a question about that? >> i want to ask why you think this is the right for patent reform when it failed last year and has not moved this year out of committee? >> the first overall patent reform took years to get there. we passed the senator leahy / smith build the biggest upgraded this year's. but it took years to get the coalition together and now you talk about the toll bill. those who wanted to do get
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it through but no group will get everything that they want. as long as anyone lobbying group has everything they want any we are determined of the death of a coalition to think it will pass. >> the best part of that mitigation reform bill. >> but what the american people are demanding more than anything right now.
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>> and we hear it is an coffeeshops in vermont. i was in the town of about 1400 people and in one coffeeshops where everybody meets and had y five aeropostale the root about buying things off the shelf because you are infringing the esoteric patent they are the linchpins of the community. they should not have to pay that. >> which of days to do you think has a better chance? the criminal-justice reform were the patent?
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>> i think the smart money is on criminal justice reform. i think the momentum is there for that bill. don't get me wrong bear both very important a duty to patent litigation reform bill but there is a much smaller audience that knows and cares about and understands that issue them criminal justice reform but now more than and any other time in history there are more people who know someone who is in prison or in federal prison. as a result people are more aware. also thinks to the president for his efforts for the means of this reform.
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but this is where i feel we have the most support. >> i would agree with that. i would like to see both passed of course, . and i will make efforts for that but in the overall effect of society the criminal reform bill. and i would urge we could move sooner than later because as part of the presidential election, it is one year from now. bottle so though tollhouse and senate it will be hard to get attention to it and i hope we can do something.
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but the criminal-justice reform passed to be taken out of politics. i agree that people know what criminal-justice reform means will make a big difference. >> let's get some questions from the audience. >> my name really is john mccarthy. [laughter] >> as a retired a ministry from harvard, first of all, they kill for putting your efforts into the senate can you comment on the role of
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bipartisanship? kennedy talks about how senator moynihan always encouraged his staff to meet with the staff across the aisle. go have a beer. get to know them. >> is absolutely important the staff is an extension of the senator. so with each of these efforts with the usa freedom act and the criminal-justice reform bill, all of these there has been a lot of bipartisan interaction that has been the essential condition present within enormous amount of staff level as well and i know
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that they have enjoyed that interaction so i completely agree with your assessment. >> i often say members of congress are constitutional impediments. the staff to all the work i have been very fortunate to have a superb staff of my committees and personal secretaries but it is totally ineffective.
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>> you can talk about the republican nominations. >> this has been a little bit different. you would be excited to actually
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have these things on distant cited, to have these undecided before the convention. i can't remember a time, i suppose there was a long time in the senate went the convention actually -- there was and i guess the last one was with president kennedy. >> it's a political junkie's dream stream right every four moves that what you think brokers convention. >> i don't think we'll see a broker convention now or in the foreseeable future. perhaps in our lifetime. it would be fun. >> it is interesting that it starts so early, i hope we got
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this right that john f. kennedy announced his candidacy for the presidency, in what is now the kennedy caucus room in january of 1960. that is when he launched his presidential campaign. it just seems like a refreshing idea to have a start in the election. >> we border canada and i think the prime minister is a matter of weeks, and he gets elected. the first prime minister in a decade. a lot of us wish we could have a campaign like that. >> we should also note that prime minister trudeau has 50% women's cabinet so maybe we'll see that. [applause]. i want to thank both senators this morning. this has been a terrific conversation.
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we will come back and see how you did, we will all pack your successes after the passage of the criminal justice reform, we'll look at what works and what took to get there. thank you for both of you in the kennedy institute and all of you for joining us this morning. [applause].
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>> unelected a2161 your way. the american enterprise will be holding a discussion about the current field of candidates and their campaign. now let's talk about what they expect to see over the next 12 months. when the republican and democratic nomination. you can watch the conversation live tomorrow morning, a 45 eastern time here in c-span2. tomorrow at noon eastern, more from the aei, on the american criminal justice system and what reforms might be needed. we'll take you to that conversation live at noon eastern on c-span2. on c-span remarks on veterans affairs secretariat, robert mcdonald on the state of his department and efforts to improve healthcare and health care and other services for american veterans. at the national press club live tomorrow at noon eastern.
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>> every weekend the c-span network feature programs on politics. nonfiction books, and american history. as the nation commemorates veterans day, saturday starting at 11:00 a.m. eastern, american history will be live from the national world war ii museum in new orleans as we look back 70 years to the war's end and its legacy. we will to her the museum exhibits and take your time calls and tweets. starting this week and every sunday morning at 10:00 a.m., our new program, wrote to the white house rewind takes a look at past presidential campaigns through archival footage. this sunday will feature ronald reagan's campaign announcement. on c-span, saturday night at 8:30 p.m. the steamboat freedom conference debate the effect of legalized marijuana in colorado and other states run the country. sunday evening at 6:30 p.m. wrote to the white house coverage continues with former maryland governor and presidential candidate rob martin o'malley. saturday afternoon on c-span2 book tv, starting at for easter and four eastern it is the boston book festival featuring nonfiction author presentations including jessica stern, joe
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klein and his book about to afghanistan and iraq soldiers. and on the connection of fictional writing. sunday night at 11:00 p.m. a book discussion with former first lady of massachusetts, and romney on her book in this together. about heard journey with multiple sclerosis. get our complete weekend schedule on >> this weekend on c-span cities to her along with our comcast cable partners we'll explore the history and literary life of california's capital city,
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sacramento. a book tv, author keough santos shares of the story of her japanese-american family survival of the depression. being swept off to internment camps, bigotry, and her book dandelion through the crack. on how it earned the reputation of the wettest city in the nation. we'll meet with author chris to discuss her book, a biography of elizabeth bacon custer whose life was full of adventure, tragedy, and determination to re-create the image of her husband, general george armstrong custer. >> elizabeth was the first to come to george's defense and say no, that is not what happened. i know my george, i know the character of my george. he would not have done that. she stood up for him and championed his actions so it was elizabeth voice that rose to the top of all of this. not only because she was a woman and people were paying attention to what she had to say, because she was george's wife, but because she outlived all of them. elizabeth does not die until 1983 and she is there for the
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50th anniversary for the battle of little big horn. she is there for all of history. she can help shape what is being said about her husband, so it does not go so far on the other end. >> on american history tv we will tour the mansion once owned by california governor and railroad tycoon, leland stamper. as a pro union of a war governor stanford negotiated deals at the mansion that help complete the transcontinental railroad. >> mr. stanford was the our last two-year term governor. he was elected and served all of 1862 and all of 1863. he was part of a group of men who were merchants. they were politically active and had similar ideas, stanford was their first candidate that was successfully elected as governor. he was our eighth governor in
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the first republican governor of california. >> then we'll visit the japanese-american archival collection at sacramento state university. this includes letters, photographs, diaries, and artwork from japanese-american communities following the attack on pearl harbor. sacramento city historian marcia hyman shares inside the artifacts of the eating for nine goldrush which brought 300,000 people to california. >> today, we are in the center for sacramento history. we hold the original records for the city and county, we go from the beginnings of the city all the way up to present time. when you talk about the experience of coming to california to search for gold you are going to need your supplies, you probably would have had your portrait taken to document yourself before your journey. one of the important things you would have acquired was a map to figure out where you needed to go.
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this is a great map of the goal peel. this map would have folded up so they could fit it in their pocket. everything was lightweight, compact, easy to travel with. this would have been an essential tool and the states from 1849 to show minors where to go. you can see how quickly the business of mining and producing all of these things, and people were quickly making money out of the people who are making gold. >> this we can watch the city store beginning at noon eastern. sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. on american history to be on c-span three. the c-span cities to her, working with our cable affiliates and visiting cities across the country. >> earlier today the senate agriculture nutrition and forestry committee heard from conservation groups and firefighter union leaders about current wildfire threats and
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their effects. they also talked about their budgetary concerns about preventing and managing forest fires across the country. this is one hour and 15 minutes. >> i call this meeting and the
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two order. today the committee turns the attention to a topic that is quite timely coming off the end of a disastrous wildfire season. it is my hope this hearing as to the public record. about the need to address significant policy issues regarding catastrophic wildfires in forest management of federal, state, private lines. let me emphasize our committee has an oversight responsibility for the u.s. forced service whose primary mission is to sustain the overall health, diversity, and productivity of our country's national force. often thought of of of a western issue on public lands, this hearing serves as a reminder that the agricultural committee has a critical role in the larger wildfire debate. national force, unlike national parks and refugees are supposed to be administered and managed in a manner to provide multiple uses and benefits. the poor service admits that nearly half of the acres of the forces them are at high risk of debit insect, disease,
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catastrophic wildfires. as a result of policy decisions from decades ago we are witnessing a significant decline in timber harvest and lawsuits with active active forest management projects. live in our national force consisting of overstock, simply as more fuel for more fires. coupled with other threats such as chronic drought and insect outbreaks there hazardous spiel stockpot. today they are larger, hotter, more dangerous wildfire that have restorative abilities. these devastate landscapes, communities and people. in response to this a 2,014
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farmville provided valuable tools. authorities to the service, the forest service has made positive strides and implement in the provisions. we have to see more progress than work on the ground. the this summer, the administration warned congress, warned us that wildfire suppression would consume the annual prorated budget probe rated budget in the coming years. while my preparedness and suppression costs now account for nearly half of the agency's annual discretionary budget. that is up from 1.6 billion in 1994 to 3.9 billion in 2,014, last year. meanwhile, in order to address the rising cost the forest service redirects other non- fire account program resources to cover the cost for wildfire suppression. this redirect program funding or fire borrowing, if you will is disruptive to the forest service and the ability to conduct other vital activities like prevented active and hazardous field zll1ñ
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the agriculture committee has long history with working on an advancing legislation on four-story matters, i would like to remind everyone that our committee is a resource and we want to work with you as we try to tackle this wildfire issue. my hope is the message shared method shared with us today reinforces and necessitates that the status quo is unacceptable and congress must focus on this issue. before a shovel can break ground, or even a chainsaw can enter a national forest, obviously not on its own. as a former chief one said, there is a crazy quilt of laws that the for service must comply with which is time-consuming and costly. the for service must comply with well over 50 separate laws like the clean water act, endangered species act, just to name a few.
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the entire process averaging at least three years for agents to review their approval for projects original conception, three years. not to mention the threat of lawsuits to stop this type of restoration work as further time causes delays. these are fundamental, systemic problems contributing to the dagger ration of the national force system. it is time congress and the administration, the stakeholders advocate for solutions that not only address funding but more importantly advocate for solutions that improve the management of our force. tough decisions will have to be made by bipartisan decision to promote greater streamlined scene and agency efficiency so for service can conduct this work. wildfire knows no boundaries. for service bureaucratic red tape is a significant contributor prohibiting necessary restoration work. if nothing changes, everything goes up in smoke.
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i look forward to hearing from our witnesses, without a recognizer distinguish ranking member for any remarks. >> thank you very much mr. chairman. this is a very important hearing obviously and we appreciate all of our witnesses coming and giving their time. i particularly want to give a special welcome to chris wood with trout unlimited which was founded in my home state of michigan in 1959. we are happy to have you here and look forward to your input on this critical issue. this summer was yet another record breaking wildfire seasoning resulting in more than 9 million burned acres, destruction of thousands of homes and properties and tragically these fires took the lives of 13 firefighters. we all knows our thoughts and prayers are here today with the families of those brave men and women.
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this devastation is a stark reminder of the challenges we face when dealing with the issue of wildfires. a warming climate, coupled with record drought, increased residential development in fire prone areas, has made this problem worse and more complex for us to deal with. others not a single solution that will fix this problem, there are several measures that we as policymakers can act now to help make a significant difference. i hope we'll talk about those today. in july, this committee heard from usda undersecretary robert bonnie who oversees the for service about the urgent need to fix the fire service budget. fixing the fire service budget is a paramount importance. it needs to be a top priority for this congress and for our committee and others. the four services now routinely forced to transfer funds away from key projects like forest restoration force restoration in timber sales which help alleviate the threat of wildfires, instead they must use this fund to help pay for
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firefighters. this dynamic notice fire transfer, or fire bowring is a huge problem is the chairman talked about. these transfers can cause essentially stop work order, on ongoing and planned projects with only place much of our force at risk to every thing from fires, invasive species, when this work can't be completed. for example, grant help her checked our michigan force against invasive species was pulled back so they could spend that money on fighting fires. there are stories similar to this that colleagues have across the country. it is time to stop these transfers. to address this, senators introduce a bipartisan legislation, the wildfire disaster act which would end the
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fire transfers by allowing the worst one or 2% of firefighters to be treated like natural disasters. under this plan the fire service would be able to fight the most of your fires, by using disaster funds, certainly these are disasters like any other disaster in our country. rather than having to transfer funds from other accounts which they are now doing. i'm pleased to be a cosponsor of this legislation, appreciate the bipartisan approach, i hope it will pass the bill. also, the 2,014 farmville as the chairman said made significant reforms to the national force as we discussed. as we discuss building on these changes i am hopeful we'll talk about this morning, i suggest we also continue to prioritize the full implementation of the reform act of last year. in fact, just last week the state of michigan and the poor service entered into a good neighbor agreement. these agreements which we expanded in the farm bill are great way that states and the federal government can partner
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to help restore our forest and sustain the more than 26,000 jobs that depend on healthy, vibrant, force in michigan. mr. chairman, i hope the committee will continue in a bipartisan way to develop consensus around restoring and protecting our natural force. i hope we'll start by supporting the wildfire disaster funding act which will free up needed resources to carry out policies that our committee are committee as a whole has long champion. i appreciate again your calling this meeting and again look forward to working with everyone on the committee. thank you. >> i appreciate that, by my colleague and friend, welcome to our panel of witnesses. before the committee this morning, i am eager to hear testimony from all of you as all members are. this is a very important issue and we have compiled the witnesses that will be very good.
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our first witnesses mr. dan, who is the director of conservation policy and is responsible for the ministration and development of the organizations conservation policy initiative to promote forest health and wildlife habitat. to sustain species of birds. in addition to his professional accolades, he serves on a number of boards including the department of interior's newly established sporting conservation council. he joins us from rice lake wisconsin. welcome, i look for to your testimony. our next witnesses mr. william bill dugan, currently serves as the president of the national federation of federal federal employees, union representing employees including fighters. prior to his current position, he served in a variety of capacities throughout his career with the department of interior, u.s. for service as a former forster in the west, and a former firefighter. welcome, i look for to your
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testimony and insight. mr. ken stewart will be introduced by the distinguish senator david. >> thank you mr. chairman, i'm pleased to introduce mr. kim stewart from georgia. mr. stewart currently serves as chairman of the board of trustees from the american force foundation. he has also read my alma mater to work his deputy director of a renewable bite product institute esther after having retired in 2,010. previously he was appointed commissioner of the georgia department of economic develop and in january, 2,007. he joined straight government in 2,004 when he was appointed director of the georgia for street. his perspective on wildfire for private landowners is especially important in our state. georgia has more privately owned, timberland than any state in the country. george's 24 million-acre, 55% is owned by private individuals.
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only 8% by public, federal, state, and county. we should drawn his wealth of knowledge along with his experience in the field. their voices and concerns are critical as we discussed the importance of force management and other forster issues that impact directly. thank you for being here, we look for to your testimony. >> our next witnesses mr. chris and senator will introduce him. >> thank you mr. chairman, thank you to you senator for allowing me to introduce our next witness. it is my pleasure to welcome chris to today's series. he lives in glenwood springs, colorado where he serves as the manager of external affairs for the colorado river water
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conservation district, more commonly known as the colorado river district. he oversees legislative and regulatory issues and over the years we have worked with chris on a number of issues important to this committee. you should know mr. chairman that he also helped develop portions of the conservation title of the 2014 farmville. he helped ensure the bill focused on water quantity in the regional conservation partnership program. he helped build consensus around other fields. from suffering insect disease epidemics which is so important to our state of colorado. i would like to welcome chris to the committee and thank him for the opportunity for being here today. >> thank you senator. our next witness will be chris wood, mr. wood currently serves as the president and ceo of trouts unlimited. prior to joining trouts unlimited mr. wood has also served in a variety of positions within the u.s. for service during the clinton
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administration. welcome to our panel, i look for to your testimony. it should be noted that committee worked very hard to get witnesses addressing this issues by the name of wood and trees. [laughter] let's start off with our first panelist please, you may begin search. >> chairman roberts, ranking members of the sapa members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to be here this morning. if we are to maintain the full array of force wildlife in our national force we have to maintain the full array of wildlife habitat and we are not doing that at this point. national force throughout the eastern united states have accomplished on average, only 24% of their minimum goal for young forest habitats as identified in existing force plants. we need to expand active management to move beyond that small number and to do this we
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need to provide the agency with adequate personnel and financial resources. unfortunately, as you pointed out the u.s. for services becoming the u.s. fire service. when 50% of the budget is eaten alive by addressing this, it makes it difficult for the agency to accomplish anything(q. a big chunk of that money is going to these fires which are increasingly common on the landscape. unfortunately they're likely to become even more so. every year, wildfires in the west we face tornadoes, hurricanes, we treat them up on them as a national disaster they are. it is time we consider doing the same thing for these mega- fires. these large, massive fires that consume the landscape. personal and financial resources used to combat these mega- fires, natural disasters are unavailable to be used as well i've conservation and other agency objectives. this leads to the loss of
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wildlife that require diverse habitats. they are declining throughout force across the country particularly in the east. falcon dear, across the nation are also declining as these habitats become in short supply. elk and deer hunters, are about 11 million across the nation. the expenditures that those provide local and rule economies account for major portion of the $34 billion spent by sport hunters every year. this is not small pocket change. it is not just game animals. if you look at region nine, approximately, if you look just at species that require young forest habitats, those species are apt to be six times likely to be declining as they are increasing. leading the eight southeastern part of the country, same birds, same species, nine times as
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likely to be climbing as they are increasing. we need to address that. the trends are real and disturbing, but they are reversible. as a mention, this committee and others in congress did a great job on the recent farmville providing good neighbor authority. that will be helpful. i think we can ask band state and agency private partnerships, we need to address insect and disease issues. we need to expand these tools. one way to do so would be to identify additional categorical exclusions, particularly one geared towards providing wildlife diversity in the force. we need to enhance budget tory certainty in the agency. we have to give them resources to utilize and meet the challenges they face.
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in summary, wildlife is the window through which many in our nation viewer national force. we need to enhance the ability of the agency to meet the objectives and expectations of the public. thank you. >> mr. dugan. >> thank you chairman roberts, ranking members, and members of the committee for inviting me to testify. our union represents 110,000 federal workers across the country working in 35 different federal agencies and departments. including 20,000 of the four service. pray to be an elected i spent years working for the federal government. i worked in the u.s. for service and spent 22 years by the wildfires. i can tell you firefighting is dangerous business. when you are on a fire only thing between you and the trouble is the equipment and private men and women with you on the fire line. that's why it's important we are firefighters with the training and resources they need to be safe and complete the mission. wildfire problem in the u.s. is growing.
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seven of the u.s. fire season since 1960 have occurred in the last five years. this year nearly 54 while fighters have been burned millions of acres. we must recognize this is the new normal and we must change the way we do business to account for. ust inspector general issued a report in 2,010 that predicted future shortages of qualified firefighters in the service. too few were being trained to replace those retiring. that prediction is coming to for wishon and it's becoming a. wildland agencies have done great work to improve cooperation. the development of certification and training system administered by the national grenade group is an outstanding achievement. the union is proud to be a part
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of that program which hope will take consistency in training to the next level. unfortunately the program has been underutilized in our view. the attrition rate is alarmingly high. i'm proud my union work with representatives in the house and senate on land management workforce flexibility act. i like to thank senator johnson for his assistance and in bringing the bill forward for boat where it was passed with unanimous consent and signed into law in august. experiences harder and on the fire line, prior to this legislation the firefighter career path was blocked by flawed and dysfunctional federal regulations which prevented long-term temporary employees from being able to advance their careers. because of this barrier to career advancement many firefighters left taking their valuable skills with them. with the legislation in law it will insure ensure these long-term temporary employees are allowed to can peat fairly for permanent positions when they become vacant. i'm disappointed to report that
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we are still awaiting opm to issue implementation guidance to federal agencies. unfortunately while we wait, hiring for next year's firefighting workforce is already underway. pending opm guidance agencies are not considering seasonal firefighters under promotion. if this doesn't change within the next few weeks, the knowledge loss we have been seen will continue another year. funding for wildfire suppression continues to be a problem. with the occurrence of an increase in the portion of the budget going to separation and has increased medically. in fiscal year 2,015, the overall management budget was $2.5 billion. of that, 708 million was for fire suppression and 303 million was in a special account for firefighting. this was a 60% increase from one decade ago.
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when this happens agency transfer funds from other programs into firefighting accounts to cover the shortfall, this fire borrowing result in cancellation and delays and agencies on the ground program of work. in fiscal year 2,015 the poor service was forced to transfer $700 million or mother programs to continue to pay for suppression costs after initial funding was exhaustive. many of the canceled projects were to reduce the frequency of while fighters. it's robbing peter to pay paul in and cost taxpayers more. we urge congress to pass the act to address this. in addition to assuring the sufficient funding available to pay for suppression costs the reduction of fuels and in our forest in communities existing in the interface must be part of a holistic strategy to reduce
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the risk of wildfires escaping initial attack and becoming catastrophic in nature. simply increasing the suppression budget will not be effective in reducing the impact wildfires. it is time for congress to take action to provide resources and flexibility necessary to protect the resources the national forest and to protect communities from wildfire. these reforms cannot wait until next year, they need to be acted on immediately. thank you for holding the hearing and i'll be happy to answer questions. >> thank you very much for your personal testimony and on behalf of our firefighters. another ranking member myself and members of the committee will join me in trying to modify under personal management. mr. stewart. >> mr. chairman, members of, this is a perfect time for the hearing. it comes fire season is coming
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to an end right now. i am impressed with how the committee is with the opening statements was made about the issues that we're facing. the force foundation represents the interests of 22 million landowners across the country. these are private landowners that we are talking about. the interest, your leadership on this issue is very important to us. i would like to also submit, for introduction to the record, western water threatened by wildfire, it is not just a public lands issue. i'm going to talk about the private side today. 30% of the lands of the 11 western states are privately owned. of that, 40% of the high fire threat lands or lands that are owned privately or in the critical fire hazard area. the interesting part of that is 64 million westerners depend on that watershed for their drinking water's. the catastrophic wildfires there
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facing out west right now and have been facing, burned so hot that it creates what it's called a parking lot effect. it bakes the soil so that when we have snowmelt or rain it runs often takes all of the debris and contaminants with it. it does not soak up in the soil entry that would normally happen and filter it. as a result we're spending millions of dollars just treating the water. 64 million westerners. the foundation dug into this on the private side and what we found it was their barriers to action. the people that own the land are ready to go. the 77% say there is a disconnect, there are a few things that we have to deal with, one is the cost and the other is if we treat our land and our neighbors don't, then what happens, what have we accomplished? they have a good point. i think this is appropriate for congress to begin dealing with for sure.
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we have mentioned a 16% of the budget dedicated fires a decade ago they impact outside the west is what is important i think for georgia in the southern states which also midwestern states have problems. state and private forest reprograms have been impacted and they have seen a decrease in the last five years and their budget. part of these are litigation programs which causes not to happen some programs are down 20% earlier the pert borrowing program is a significant issue in terms of some 40% of the forrester's have been laid off in the state. this is not all about problems, some of this is about solutions. we have to focus on private
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lands here but first we recommend there's three solutions to consider, one is we must fix how wildfire fighting is funded. congressional action is needed and has been introduced to treat it like other federal emergency funding. secondly, when he funding to better enable the treatment of private family lands and dude on a landscape approach. this is simply words that say, we need to be collaborative, work with our partners, work with conservation service, local and community agencies as well so we have a coordinated landscape approach. third, certainly is about markets. that is near and dear to my heart. it starts with markets. we have a way of spending some public money to develop and support the markets through loans and grant programs to help develop them. so mr. chairman, members of the committee, the time to act is now.
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and you for your consideration. i believe what we are talking about here should have good, bipartisan support. >> thank you very much for your testimony and pointing out that 30% of the four slanders forest land is held in private lands. your rather dramatic statement regarding the 64 million people who depend on their water supply with regards to the real problems you face good morning members of the committee i have the honor of representing the colorado river district and the national water resources association and across 13 states. as this committee knows, the founding purpose of the national purpose system was to secure favorable water flows. the currently degraded conditions of our national
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forests adversely impacts water chemistry, runoff timing and water yield. wildfires are becoming more frequent and significantly larger. the loans after an average of 40,000 acres of forest land was burned. that average a jump from 2,007 22014 to 140,000 acres per year. while i fires can cause significant loss of water and hydropower infrastructure, wildfires greatest impact to the water community comes after the fire is out. water flooding, filtration and debris flow represent the major and recurring threat, post fire. 2,003 study found post fire runoff can increase tenfold and erosion rates increase up to 100 times over prefire conditions.
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remediation costs quickly run into the tens and millions additionally, drinking water costs suffer similar or greater increases, nearly all of these costs are borne by local utilities and water providers. federal actions must address both fire suppression and fire prevention. i applaud senator's introduction to the bipartisan act addressing fema's limited funding of fire disasters and fire prevention. already mentioned is the need to address fire borrowing, the adequate resources for fire suppression cannot, at the expense of fire prevention. fire mitigation works. the record-setting haman wildfire in colorado raced across denver's foothills as an uncontrollable crown fire until it reached an area of the force that had been previously thinned when it dramatically and immediately dropped to a lesser
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intensity and manageable ground fire. the 2,014 farmville regional conservation partnership program created an innovative and competitive grant program to encourage and facilitate innovative watershed partnerships. the resilient federal forest actor builds on the good work of this committee and the 14 farmville by incentivizing collaboration with local governments by expediting permitting for qualifying projects. too often environmental permitting comes as an impediment for critical, time sensitive, on the ground actions. the farmville's authorization of categorical exclusion of insect infestation is very much appreciated and is being successfully employed in my district. these are good starts.
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the deteriorating conditions of the forest did not come overnight, we cannot, we do not contend that immediate action is possible. excuse me, immediate resolution is impossible but immediate action is imperative. we are our working over the long haul to improve our forest health. i look for to your question. >> thank you very much for your testimony. especially emphasizing the need for expediting policy as best we can do that. mr. wood,. >> thank you chairman robinson ranking members and committee members. i am president and ceo of trout unlimited. thank you for the opportunity to testify here today on wildfire management on public lands. the committee is right to focus on this issue. high levels of wildfire spending including wholesale borrowing from other national force programs are substantially undermining the ability of the
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four service to manage our national force. i offer this testimony today on behalf of trout unlimited and it's 155,000 members, many of whom use and enjoy national force run the country. half of the nation's blue-ribbon trout streets streams go across the nations lands. changing climate conditions, hotter, drier summers, longer, more severe drought, increasing development in fire prone hires and past timber management policies has left many of our force did areas vulnerable. the practice of budget rating to fight fires significantly disrupts this for service and the very help of the force underneath its jurisdiction. ironically, the more money that is transferred or reallocated to
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fight fire, the less money that is available for restoration activities that would improve resiliency, and minimize the fires. we need to address two related problems, first the midseason, unplanned fire borrowing. second, the scope and scale of force restoration work. the solution to firefighter dean would allow access to disaster funding and address the increasing costs of suppression over time. the wildfire disaster funding act is the right solution to solve this problem. in addition, we must accelerate the scope and pace of restoration on our national forest lands. as mentioned in the recent farmville created opportunities including a small targeted exemption for certain projects. permanent stewardship authority and expansion of good neighbor authority. it's important to note however, cutting trees alone will not restore our force. restoration must be looked at,
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must be approached by looking at how to best recover ecological functions and processes that keep the land healthy. closing or relocating her relocating roads, fixing culverts, removing unneeded small bands, ensuring adequate flows of water, thinning are all part of restoration strategy. fundamental to force restoration is the fact that many of the force are fire adapted. in fact, they need fire to remain healthy. our general approach should allow fires to burn in remote areas so long as they do not pose risk to communities. most hazardous fuel reduction fire suppression should be focused first and foremost on urban wildlife interface areas where people live. it is also important that we educate landowners about steps they can take to make their own
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homes fire say. homeowners and local governments must bear more responsibility for the proliferation of homes in fire prone areas and have to work to reduce the risk to homes and firefighters. they can again for this opportunity to provide testimony on this important issue. trout unlimited supports as 235, the wildfire disaster funding act is a critical and necessary for the process. we urge the committee to advance the bill. >> i think the witness, i ask unanimous consent to enter the following on behalf of of ten different organizations that complement the testimony. without objection, it is so order. i'm going to ask members to limit their comments to four minutes in the hope that we can conclude this hearing, we do have a vote at 11. we have seven members, we now
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have six members present. thank you david. the distinguished senator from colorado, five into 20 is for is that correct? okay, i think we can do this. we asked the cooperation of the witnesses and thank you again for your testimony. can you further elaborate on the need for maintenance of early successional stage forest habitat, or especially with the conservation and environmental benefits that accrue from this kind of management to maintain early success forest habitat. it seems to me if we do this we can avoid a lot of the problems. >> thank you mr. chairman. early success of the forests are basically force are basically young force.
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characterized by thick, dense, protective cover and dense vegetation. it hosts wildlife species you will not find anywhere else. we have to have those forest in the landscape. they host a variety of pollinators. a class of critters right now that we are very considered concerned about. so, without question we have to employ additional active management to try and get a better balance between the a mature forest in young forest recognizing that mature forest are equally as important as our young force. when we see the latter declining at a precipitous rate we have to increase our efforts to address that. a failure to do so will simply mean these species that are of
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great ecological importance, in some regards economical importance, will regain her standing on the landscape. a failure to do so frankly, and my perspective, i am a little biased, i think it would be irresponsible. >> thank you very much. i'm going to yield to the distinguished ranking member. >> thank you very much mr. chairman. thank you to all of you. just a simple question first, i just want to make sure we are clear. i would like each of you to indicate whether or not your organization supports the wildfire disaster funding act. if we could just start. >> yes. >> yes. >> absolutely. >> yes ma'am. >> yes. >> i think we have unanimous. that is great to know. that is a great place to start. let me then go to mars specific questions and let me start with mr. wood. when you talk about the
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partnerships and through your work with trout unlimited and the forest service in the past, could you talk more about additional examples and details that illustrate how damaging the fire transfers are to agencies and their partners when your time trying to do the work you're doing qwest mark. >> yes ma'am. what is happening is organizations that work with the four service are doing everything they can to spend as much money as they possibly can before june or before the fire season starts. in places like michigan, we have seen inventory important road inventories that are not being done to help identify places where culverts in the landscape need to be replaced because they are bleeding sediment into rivers. we have seen endangered species work that cannot be done and of course the more we do to offset
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the species the less social economic disruption we have. we are basically robbing peter to pay paul. we we're taking money away from programs to help not only manage the healthy landscapes but create economic opportunity and job in order to fight fire. >> thank you very much. could you talk more about your work with the four service, national advisory committee. on the 2,012 force planning rule, do you see new opportunities to improve the way the agency develop management plans that will reduce fire risk and restore wildlife habitat question. >> i think the primary impetus with regard to the implementation committee that you're referring to, we are very interested in the idea of collaboratives. bring people to work together, during project planning, during force planning, so there is a greater buy-in. we feel quite strongly that i
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want to be careful because i don't want to speak for members of the committee but i think it is fair to suggest there is broad consensus that if we can reduce will have more funds to spend on conservation. >> thank you very much. mr. dugan, i'm wondering if you might speak more about your observation over the years. you started in 1979 with the four service, what implication have the changes you have seen half for the firefighters who are on the frontline? >> i think it is clear when you look at wildfires of the last ten or 15 years, we are seeing an increase in the severity of the fires. the fires are burning hotter. they're covering a lot more ground and in shorter periods of time. this creates problems from a safety standpoint for these crews
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relationships from north carolina? we had a lot of firefighters go out west to assist. how would assess that cooperative relationship when you need additional resources to go out there? >> it is absolutely critical. this year, at its peak, of the fire season, we had over 30,000 people on the fire line nationwide fighting fire. without having the ability to move crews, rather that is a
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contractor crew or federal employees, without the ability to move those folks where we need them, where it most critical fires are, we would have a much worse situation. i want to >> i want to keep to my time because the chair scares me but appreciate the feedback. thank you. >> senator klobuchar. >> thank you so much. minnesota is a big part of the culture of the state and economy employing 40,000 people in the forest industry. 9.7 billion. it is what my grandpa did so it
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is near and dear to my heart. budget transfers prevented the fuel reduction burning 165 acres and this worked to protect forest from wild fires and surrounding communities. you talked about the communities and water infrastructure is impacted and destroyed by wild fires. how have agencies had to adapt procedures to accommodate the wild fire risk? >> they have done their best but it is hard. larger communities have been able to interconnect with neighboring agencies and
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utilities and created or established multiple watershed sources for their water. that is cost prohibitive. >> what role can private forest landowners play in restoring health? >> i speak to the private landowner but it is a public effort. interestingly, this ultimately gets back to the budget.
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if they invest in local programs the forest program has it will mitigate the risk. so we have to continue to investigate in that. >> back to my original point, what do you think we should be doing besides putting the money into fighting fires? what should we be doing to address forest health and among the lines what concrete steps should we assist in taking to meet the forest plan because i know in minnesota they haven't reached the goals of how many trees should be cut and that is creating a further problem because the fires can go more ra ramped. >> with the budget authority to fund the things the way they
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are; natural disasters. as opposed to taking the money from the budget and allow them the personal resources to get the work done on the ground that have been in the process. >> mr. wood? >> i think an ounce of prevention is worth a cure. we should take step s like pr protecting homes and operating at large n landscapes. but the first thing we have to do is fix the fire borrowing problem. >> thank you for your work, mr. dugan. i am out of question. >> i would like to remind the members we are on a time
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schedule to make the vote. senat senator ernst. >> i am sorry to join the discussion late. but have any of your agencies or organizations utilized or witnessed utlization of the national guard forces? and if you could please share with us that experience. >> the forest service and other agencies responsible for managing these incidences utilized many hundreds, if not thousands, of military personal. >> anybody else have spens
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experience? we have wonderful army and air guard out there. i want to reinforce we should not overlook the capabilities available with those types of response units. that is all i have. thank you mr. chair. >> senator bennett. >> thank you mr. chairman. i want to say to you on behalf of the people i represent in colorado how much we appreciate you holding this hearing. i think the testimony has been excellent. there is a compelling consensus that what we are doing now doesn't work and we have to change it. it is long overdue. you are bringing the attention to the issue and i think it is coming at a critical moment when we can get it done. there are two big issues. the first is, in the name of fiscal responsibility, we are managing the forest in the most irresponsible way we can manage
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them which is to say we are taking the money that could be spend on litigation and using that to suppress fires. there is not money left to litigate or restore. anybody downstream from the rivers in colorado needs to care about the rivers in colorado. we are one nation and i cannot think about an issue where it is more true. what we are doing fails the test in fiscal responsibility for anybody's perspective of what federalism means.
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we are seeing the benefits to projects as you mentioned that are underway in colorado to treat 3,000 acres of forest affected by insect and disease epidemics. can you explain as a water provider why it is critical to address that and how the projects are working in colorado. >> i think the projects are in fact working. but they are working on a limited bases. the commercial says pay me now or later. this is a way to treat the forest through the category
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extension. they work on private lands cooperatively and cojoiningly to address a larger shed used by grand junction and the larger district around that. about roughly 100,000 people. >> maybe that is the third point of consensus which is the significance of collaboration in order to get this done because fire doesn't know boundaries. mr. wood, i am running out of time. it is my own fault. i blabbed which i don't usually do. this isn't the subject but i want to thank you for leading the effort on good samaritan legislation to address the acid mine drainage polluting the streams across the u.s. i wonder if you could spend less than a minute talking about where you in the work and where you think
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we are headed. >> we need relief and liability that is listed in the clean water act. we are making progress there. we need more funding to clean the mines up. >> thank you. >> i thank the senator from colorado. we can see you from mount sunflower on the western end of the plains. if the smoke is billowing we know we have a problem. coop, you are up next. >> thank you, mr. chairman. it is good to hear from stakeholders on this issue. this is important and dealing with budget impact and threats to national resources on federal, state and private land.
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a lot of the work is focused on firefighter and borrowing with the cost rising to $300 billion this year. we have to find a more effective means of paying for fighting the fires and eliminate the borrowing from forest management funds but i believe it is imperative that we couple funding fire fighting with improved forest management because failure to do so results in the increase of forest fires and damage to private property and environment. there are three things i think can be done to improve forest
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management and three changes i would suggest. first to expand the use of category expansions, second reduce litigative risk, and third implementation of large plans which one is on the grounds in south dakota and has been affective. we have a problem some believe can be solved by throwing more money at it. i would like to get the panel's thoughts on the three thoughts i
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suggested if you believe the following items would benefit forest management. category exclusion, expansion, and reducing risk when forest projects are limiteded and allowing the use of arbitration. >> i think this is probably where the biggest strength is. the biggest opportunity as well is in focusing on accom -- a common objective in the landscape. >> on the categorical exclusion issue, in areas with broad agreement among multiple interests who came together, i
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think relaxing some of the process requirements is probably a good idea. i would be nervous about doing it largely across the landscape because you will end up creating ant antagonism and people will try to gum up the works. >> i would like to comment on the landscape idea. my organization is working with a collaborative effort on stewardship with communities in eastern oregon, other stakeholders, timber companies, environmental groups, bringing people together to talk about how we should manage the land in
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terms of timber and other values. we are having success doing that. that kind of thing where we come up with solutions is a good approach. we can treat neat federal lands and let private lands go untreated because that will not solve the problem. >> yes to all three. >> good. that is the answer i am looking for. >> i thank the panelist for answering. senator boseman, let me remind
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members the vote has started and we have informed the clerk we will arrive soon. >> i want to take a second to highlight the efforts of my home state colleagues congressman westerman who is a professional engineer and only forester in congress working for two decades in the forest field. he went to harvard and played football at the university of arkansas. his legislation treats the sickness of overgrown mismanaged forest and symptoms including wild fire, disease and infestation. i support the bill. i would like to ask consent we include a bip op-ed that was written titled symptoms of the diseases of forest trees into
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the record. while these issues are high profile in the west, we have serious impacts in the south. we have ownership and assortment of things. i know your port focused on the west, how are the issues in the south similar or different when it comes to wild fire. >> we have the impact on the budget affects of the states not in the west just like it affects the states in the west. if we look at the private programs and mitigation efforts and the employment of the service foresters and others
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doing work for the private landowners they are certainly impacted outside of the west as a result of the fires and the way the budget is handled. it is a very significant impact throughout the country. >> what more can we do on public lands? does aff have a position on the federal refom bill? >> our focus is on private lands but the more management we have on public and private lands the more success we will have in mitigating the risks from not just wild fire, but as reported in our report, it is there. >> what more can we do address
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wild fire and other issues besides what is in the report? >> this isn't a field of dreams approach that we take here. but something has to get this virtue started. i think the grant programs that can develop markets for the forest that need to be restored, public or private, as well as programs that identify the markets. and the last component, relates to research. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator casey, if you could wrap up for u.wrap up for us.
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>> i want to direct questions to the first two witnesses and i say this representing a state where we have something on the order of 57% of the state is forested and we have 80,000 people in the business. so this is major issue. you spoke of budget certainty or lack of budget certainty and you talked about the issue affecting the ability of the wildlife forest to meet invasive species management. can you talk about that? i think it bears to repeat how devastating, from my judgment, sequestration has been.
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>> with regard to uncertainty it is ramped. they have to determine how the fire season is going before they can implement projects they already planned. >> mr. duing n, about 22 years of fighting fires, a good part of your life, can you walk us through the training of firefighters and that basic concern? >> there is an inner system
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agency in place that was put together to certify wild land firefighters. they are required to take certain on-the-job training and they are evaluated on the job then they are hired if found proficient. in the federal government, we have a lot of people we invested in and have years that are at that age they have making plans to retire and walk out and with them goes the knowledge and skills. the federal government overall has not done a good job of secession planning in my opinion. not just in the fire
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organization but certainly across many other agencies. so that is one of the things we are facing. the other problems that we have again are budget-related. they try to set aside money from a training and travel. >> i will submit the question for the record because we are out of time. we would ask any additional questions you have for the record be submitted to the committee to by 5 p.m. next
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thursday, november 12. the committee is adjourned. >> i thought there is only one about whom i would write.
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i remembered bon hoffer. i did write that book of course. i thought maybe i will give him the books later. if i feel as a new yorker, if i feel the it in the moment to be able to pull off the goofiness i will do it. >> eric talks about his writing career and best-selling biography and the crossover of religion and politics. >> it is important to take politics seriously and vote. but never make an idol of politics.
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there are people that did that and are worshipping the idol. >> politico reports chris christie failed to make the cut for the main stage. donald trump is scheduled to host nbc's saturday night live which is getting criticism including from loretta


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