May 30, 2013

Ruidoso, NM (May 30, 2013) – Today, U.S. Congressman Steve Pearce attended a town hall meeting to discuss fires and forest management.  Pearce led the meeting with Bill Derr, former special agent in charge for the U.S. Forest Service’s California Region, who recently published a report for the Congressional Office on the Whitewhater-Baldy Complex and Little Bear fires in New Mexico.  The meeting was attended by local residents, public officials, and numerous representatives from the U.S. Forest Service.

“Today, New Mexicans came to make their voices heard, and to take control of the policies that affect their public lands, their homes, and their safety,” said Pearce.  “Through public forums and meetings like this one, we can move toward the transparent, locally-driven approach to forest management that New Mexico needs.  Recent fires in New Mexico have needlessly cost hundreds of millions of dollars, destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres of habitat, demolished vital watersheds, and killed countless plants and animals—including endangered species.  By asking questions, engaging the process, and working to understand what has gone wrong with fire management in past summers, we can move toward a better, safer forest management policy for the future.”

Mr. Derr’s report was sponsored by the National Institute for the Elimination of Catastrophic Wildfire.  The report, which was completed at no cost to taxpayers, details what went wrong with the suppression efforts of the Whitewater-Baldy Complex and Little Bear Fires last summer.  It recommends that the Forest Service manage our nation’s forests in accordance with the legislation that established the modern Forest Service, review the National Fire Policy, calculate the total cost of wildfires beyond suppression, and that Congress should reform the Equal Access to Justice Act to prevent special interest groups from dictating forestry policy in an unscientific manner at taxpayer expense.

Copies of Mr. Derr’s report, as well as other documents and information distributed at the meeting, can be found at