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Press Release: House conference secretary John Doolittle 9/13/06
Doolittle to Tour Ralston Fire Saturday
Requests Emergency Funds to Prevent Further Damage After Fire
WASHINGTON, D.C. - House Republican Conference Secretary John T. Doolittle (R-Roseville) today announced that he will be touring the Ralston Fire by helicopter on Saturday and meeting with officials from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), California Department of Forestry, and Placer County to assess the status of the Ralston Fire. Doolittle is working with officials to reduce the long-term and potentially devastating effects caused by a fire of this magnitude.
In a letter to USFS Chief Dale Bosworth and Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, Doolittle requested resources from the Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) program be made available for the Foresthill area in order to prevent massive hillside erosion, excessive runoff and water contamination, flooding, and other damages caused by the loss of vegetation after a devastating fire.
"As of today, the Ralston Fire burning east of the community of Foresthill has already charred 7,373 acres. Although it is approximately 53 percent contained, the danger of the fire spreading is high due to weather and topographical conditions," Doolittle said.
"Thanks to the committed efforts of the fire fighters and emergency response crews, I am hopeful that the fire will be extinguished soon. However, the lasting effects have the potential to severely degrade environmental conditions long after the flames have gone out unless the land is rehabilitated immediately," Doolittle continued.
"This is why I am urging the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service to dedicate resources from the Burned Area Emergency Response program for the rehabilitation of the land affected by the Ralston Fire.
"It is vitally important to preserve the watershed that supplies clean water for municipal, industrial and agriculture purposes to thousands of my constituents. With the rainy season just a few months away, it is absolutely critical that soil stabilization and other restoration activities begin as soon as possible," Doolittle concluded.
The BAER program is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior's National Park Service and is an immediate stabilization that often begins even before a fire is fully contained. The program does not seek to replace what is damaged by fire, but to reduce further damage due to the land being temporarily exposed in a fragile condition.
The National Park Service coordinates rehabilitation plans with private landowners and other federal and local agencies, such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the USFS, the Bureau of Land Management, and local forestry departments.
U.S. Rep. John T. Doolittle has served in the House of Representatives since 1991. As Secretary of the House Republican Conference, he is an elected member of the House Republican Leadership. Doolittle represents California's 4th Congressional District and serves on the Appropriations Committee, Energy and Water, Agriculture, and Interior Subcommittees, and the House Administration Committee.
Letter from Doolittle to Secretary Kempthorne and Chief Bosworth below:
The Honorable Dirk Kempthorne, Secretary
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20240
The Honorable Dale Bosworth, Chief
United States Forest Service
United States Department of Agriculture
Yates Federal Building
201 14th Street Southwest
Washington, DC 20250
Re: Use of Burned Area Emergency Response Funds for Ralston Fire
Dear Secretary Kempthorne and Chief Bosworth:
I am writing to urge you to dedicate resources from the Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) program to the rehabilitation of the land affected by the Ralston Fire which is currently burning on the Tahoe and Eldorado National Forests in Northern California.
As of today, the Ralston Fire burning east of the community of Foresthill has already charred 7,373 acres. Although it is approximately 53 percent contained, the danger of the fire spreading is high due to weather and topographical conditions. Due to the steep slopes of this mountainous region, firefighting efforts have been hampered. Nevertheless, thanks to the committed efforts of the fire fighters and emergency response crews from all of the governmental agencies involved, I am confident that the fire will be extinguished relatively soon. However, the lasting effects of the fire have the potential to severely degrade environmental conditions long after the flames have gone out unless the land is rehabilitated immediately.
The area in question is a vital watershed that supplies clean water for municipal and industrial purposes as well as for agriculture to thousands of my constituents. With the rainy season just a few months away, it is absolutely critical that soil stabilization and other remediation activities commence as soon as possible. According to the BAER program's description, its core objective is to "alleviate emergency conditions to help stabilize soil; control water, sediment and debris movement; prevent impairment of ecosystems; mitigate significant threats to health, safety, life, property and downstream values at risk". Given the nature of the terrain of the Ralston Fire burn area, this is precisely the sort of assistance that is required. In addition to the federal resources already being dedicated to this emergency, the mobilization of the BAER program in this case would provide a very important service to the people and the environment of Northern California.
Again, I strongly encourage your interagency taskforce to dedicate BAER resources to the Ralston Fire burn site as soon as possible and request that you keep me informed of rehabilitation efforts. Thank you in advance for your consideration.
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