Barrasso: We Can Work in a Bipartisan Fashion to Address the Many Issues Facing America’s Forests

October 21, 2021

Click here to watch Ranking Member Barrasso’s remarks.  

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), delivered the following remarks at a full committee hearing to consider pending legislation.

The hearing featured testimony from Mr. Christopher French, deputy chief of the National Forest System at the Forest Service in the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Mr. Jeffery Rupert, director of the Office of Wildland Fire at the U.S. Department of the Interior; Mr. Bill Crapser, state forester for the Wyoming State Forestry Division; Mr. Paul R. Johansen, chief of the Wildlife Resources Section of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources; and Mr. Tyson Bertone-Riggs, coalition director of the Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition. 

For more information on witness testimony click here. 

Senator Barrasso’s remarks: 

“Thanks so much, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate you holding this hearing. 

“It’s good to have Senator Bennet here joining us as well, as he and I have cosponsored legislation that’s on the agenda today. 

“‘Our forests are really in a state of crisis. What we’re seeing now should be a call for action.’ 

“That is a recent quote from Randy Moore, the new chief of the Forest Service. 

“I agree completely. 

“Extreme drought, coupled with decades of fire suppression without proper active management, has left many of America’s forests vulnerable to disaster. 

“Recent catastrophic wildfires have devastated American lives and livelihoods and destroyed our forest and range landscapes.  

“In June, Chairman Manchin and I wrote a letter to the White House, saying: ‘Proactive management is far better for our forests, our economies, and the safety of our communities than simply being reactive.’ 

“That is why I am pleased to see a number of bills on today’s schedule that will move us in the right direction of proactive forest and rangeland management. 

“This includes America’s Revegetation and Carbon Sequestration Act, which I introduced along with Chairman Manchin. 

“This important, bipartisan bill increases active forest management on a number of fronts. 

“It will spur more tree thinning in overcrowded forests that are at high risk of wildfires. 

“These projects give rise to healthier forests that are more resistant to wildfires and disease. 

“Our legislation eradicates harmful invasive grasses that make landscapes more fire-prone.

“In Wyoming, and across the West, invasive grasses like cheatgrass and medusahead crowd out forage for wildlife and livestock. This harms our ecosystems and dealing a blow to local economies. 

“The bill also directs federal agencies to work with local officials and experts. The goal is to restore vegetation on forested and range landscapes that have been destroyed by wildfires. 

“The bill also includes a number of measures to store carbon through the expanded use of wood products. 

“This includes helping to expedite appropriate salvage logging projects in the event that disaster does strike a National Forest.

“America’s Revegetation and Carbon Sequestration Act enables the use of proactive management tools that make a real change in our public lands’ natural ability to store carbon. 

“Our bill enjoys broad support from a wide range of organizations, including: sportsmen’s groups, timber companies, conservation organizations and state and private forestry associations.   

“Today’s hearing also includes the Ski Hill Resources for Economic Development, or SHRED Act, which I introduced with Senator Bennet. 

“These retained fees will be used on projects to improve recreation management, protect our forests, and support local economies. 

“This bill also has broad support, and is cosponsored by a number of other senators on this committee. 

“I also want to highlight the important forestry bills introduced by Senator Daines and Senator Risch. 

“These bills would address the red tape and litigation traps that stymie projects designed to mitigate wildfires and improve forest health. 

“I support these pieces of legislation, and I look forward to hearing testimony on all the bills before the committee today. 

“I am hopeful that we can work in a bipartisan fashion to address the many issues facing America’s forests.”