Barrasso: We Need Creative Solutions to Promote Healthier Forests

June 17, 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 examine the president’s budget request for the U.S. Forest Service for Fiscal Year 2022.

The hearing featured testimony from Ms. Victoria Christiansen, chief of the U.S. Forest Service. 

For more information on witness testimony click here. 

Senator Barrasso’s remarks: 

“Thanks for holding today’s hearing on the Forest Service budget request for fiscal year 2022. 

“Chief Christiansen, I want to add my accolades to those from Senator Manchin. 

“I want to thank you for many years of service –remarkable service. 

“I want to congratulate you on a very long distinguished and accomplished career. 

“So on behalf of the people from my home state and on behalf of the entire United States Senate, let us thank you. 

“All of us on the committee wish you all the best, and we hope that you will enjoy your upcoming retirement.  

“Last month, this committee held a very informative hearing with top forestry experts to discuss the vital role that forest management must play in improving of our nation’s forests, and preventing devastating wildfires. 

“The message from that hearing was clear – simply being reactive, waiting for disaster to strike is not a successful strategy. 

“We need proactive forest management for America’s forests, economies, and communities. 

“Chief Christiansen, I know you agree with all of this. 

“In April, you testified at an appropriations hearing that the Forest Service must increase active forest management efforts, and that a ‘paradigm shift’ is needed. 

“I am interested to hear how elements of this new budget request might help bring about this badly-needed turnaround.  

“At the same time, I am deeply troubled with the Biden administration’s massive requested increase for the federal spending.  

“With respect to the proposed Forest Service budget, I would like to know whether the requested $1 billion increase is necessary, and whether the proposed spending is carefully targeted for maximum efficiency. 

“I support robust funding for the agency’s wildfire preparedness, suppression and mitigation efforts. 

“I don’t believe we can simply spend our way out of problems that have plagued the forests for decades. 

“I am interested in creative solutions to promote healthier forests, collaborating with people on the ground. 

“That includes our ranchers, our state foresters, our industry partners. 

“I also would like to hear whether legal challenges and red tape are some of the barriers to making the Forest Services’ dollars go as far as they could and should. 

“Many of us here today also want to know how this budget will help the Forest Service prepare for fire season. 

“Last summer was a truly devastating wildfire season across America. 

“In Wyoming, the Mullen fire was one of our largest fires on record in our state. 

“And several states, including states represented on this committee, experienced some of their largest wildfires ever in 2020. 

“According to the secretary of Agriculture, the ‘signals and indications are that we're headed to yet another very dangerous fire year.’ 

“Ensuring that our firefighters have the resources they need to effectively and safely do their jobs is of paramount importance. 

“Recently, all of Wyoming was extremely saddened about the loss of Wyoming Forest Service Smokejumper Tim Hart. 

“He lived with his family in Cody, Wyoming 

“We are indebted to brave firefighters like Tim who put their lives on the line every day. 

“They protect people’s lives and livelihoods.

“Again, Chief Christiansen, thank you so much for being here, and for your long career of successfully serving the American people. 

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I look forward to the testimony.”