The House passed legislation on Thursday to overhaul the way the U.S. Forest Service responds to wildfires in national forests.

The bill, passed 262-167, would require litigants to post a cash bond when filing lawsuits against forest restoration projects as a means of handling the Forest Service’s legal costs.

Plaintiffs can get the money to pay for the bond back if they win the lawsuit.


“We have a problem of delayed decisionmaking, or worse, no decisionmaking at all,” said Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.), the author of the bill.

Another part of the bill would limit judges’ ability to issue preliminary injunctions to halt reforestation projects in places damaged by natural disasters.

The legislation would further expedite environmental reviews for dead tree removal as a means of preventing forest fires and promoting reforestation.

The White House said in a statement that it “strongly opposes” the bill but stopped short of a veto threat. 

Environmental groups have charged that the provisions to restrict litigation by potentially making it prohibitively costly for plaintiffs would discourage the public’s ability to raise concerns about reforestation efforts.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) offered an amendment to do away with the litigation provisions, but it failed on a vote of 181-247.