Jeff Flake - U.S. Senator ~ Arizona

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Washington, D.C. – United States Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) today applauded passage of the Stewardship Contracting Reauthorization and Improvement Act (S. 1300) out of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The bill, which was sponsored by Flake and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), is designed to extend federal agencies’ authority to enter into forest stewardship contracts that would help them reduce wildfire risks.

The legislation, which had bipartisan support, also includes improvements to the stewardship program that would help agencies treat larger areas of our forests. It is co-sponsored by Sens. John Barrasso (R-WY), Max Baucus (D-MT), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Dean Heller (R-NV), James Risch (R-ID), Jon Tester (D-MT) and Tom Udall (D-NM).

"We must use every resource at our disposal to prevent wildfires. Stewardship contracting and the partnerships it creates help restore Arizona’s forests, reduce the risk of out-of-control wildfires and protect rural communities. These success stories should be allowed to continue,” said Flake. “Today’s committee action marks an important step in keeping the firefighting toolbox full, and I urge the Senate to consider action on this bill as soon as possible.”

S. 1300 will grant the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) flexibility when holding funds in reserve to cover the costs of cancelled contracts. Typically, the federal government must hold in reserve the full amount of the contract for the agreement’s duration, which can last up to 10 years. This requirement can serve as an impediment to long-term contracts that are often used to reduce wildfire risks.