Manchin Raises Concerns About Deferred Maintenance, Forest Service’s Approach To Forest Management

Forest Chief: Great American Outdoors Act funding will pay for rehabilitating West Virginia’s Lake Sherwood Campground

June 17, 2021

To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s opening remarks, please click here.

To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s questioning, please click here.

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Forest Service Chief Victoria Christiansen testified before the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee about the Administration’s budget request for the Forest Service for Fiscal Year 2022.  Throughout the hearing, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Committee, raised concerns about the increased risks posed to our National Forests and questioned Chief Christiansen on her agency’s approach to mitigating those risks. Earlier this week, Chairman Manchin called on President Biden to direct Federal land management agencies to implement proactive forest management policies to reduce the occurrence of devastating wildfires and look to the potential forests hold as natural climate solutions.

Chairman Manchin also questioned Chief Christiansen on what steps the Forest Service is taking to responsibly address their deferred maintenance backlog with the increase in funds provided by the Great American Outdoors Act – Chairman Manchin’s landmark conservation legislation that passed the Senate one year ago today.

“My Great American Outdoors Act provided you an additional $285 million annually over 5 years to address your deferred maintenance backlog, which is estimated at $5.2 billion. I want to make sure that you will use the money requested in this budget to maintain what you currently have, or at least to the extent that the remaining $4 billion backlog does not continue to grow. How much of your proposed funding for buildings, roads, and facilities would go toward maintenance versus new construction?” asked Chairman Manchin.

“The $285 million annually provided by the Great American Outdoors Act is a great start and, for an updated number, we have a $5.9 billion backlog. $3.85 Billion is for transportation and just over $2 billion is for non-transportation, [e.g.] our admin facilities, our recreation and communication sites, and all the rest. And a significant criteria for the Great American Outdoors Act deferred maintenance projects is that we must indicate how much deferred maintenance the project is going to replace. So, there is an example in West Virginia: rehabilitating the Lake Sherwood Campground is a significant project out of the Great American Outdoors Act, we’re investing $750,000 from the Legacy Restoration Fund, but it will take care of $1.1 million of deferred maintenance,” said Chief Christiansen.

To read Chief Christiansen’s testimony, please click here.

To watch the hearing in full, please click here.