March 15, 2023

Forest Conservation Act updates heads to governor’s desk

A bill that would amend the state Forest Conservation Act heads to the governor’s desk after passing the Senate on a 36-0 vote on Wednesday.

Sen. Pat Woods, R-Broadview, said the current Forest Conservation Act contains language that conflicts with state and federal policies. HB 195 would update that statute.

He said the changes will allow the State Forestry Division to work to improve the health of the forests and to restore the watersheds and to do post-fire recovery work.

“More than 35 years have passed since the last updates to the statute. The 2022 fires are the trigger to the need to update the act,” Woods said.

Furthermore, he said that the current statute conflicts with modern firefighter safety standards.

HB 195, he said, would also clarify which agency is tasked with soil stabilization and erosion control following wildfires.