WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), welcomed Mr. Pat O’Toole, president of Family Farm Alliance, to the committee. O’Toole testified before the committee at a legislative hearing to examine and receive testimony on a number of forestry related bills.
Barrasso introduced O’Toole to the committee prior to his testimony. “Thanks, Mr. Chairman. I would like to introduce and welcome Pat O’Toole back to the committee. He is the president of the Family Farm Alliance. He’s a rancher and hay grower, and a former member of Wyoming’s House of Representatives.
“Pat and his wife, Sharon, live and work on a ranch located near Savery, Wyoming. Primarily a sheep and cattle operation, the ranch has been in Sharon’s family since 1881, which is nine years before Wyoming even became a state. The O’Toole family and Ladder Ranch were the recipients of the 2014 Wyoming Leopold Environmental Stewardship Award. And, just last month, Pat was inducted into the Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame.
“Needless to say, he is very well-equipped to discuss the nexus between livestock grazing, responsible land stewardship, and wildfire mitigation. Pat, again, thank you for joining us today and welcome to the committee,” said Barrasso.
Click here to watch O’Toole’s testimony.
In his written testimony, O’Toole highlighted the importance of actively managing and restoring our federal forests.
“We believe active forest management can increase water yield, improve water quality, provide for jobs, and reduce the cost and danger of firefighting, while increasing forest resiliency. This can be done, in part, by increasing the productivity of national forests and grasslands; employing grazing as an effective, affordable forest and grassland management tool; increasing access to national forest system lands; expediting environmental reviews to support active management; and designing West-wide studies to quantify water yield,” wrote O’Toole.
O’Toole stated his support for Barrasso’s bipartisan bill to reduce catastrophic wildfire risk and improve forest health.
“The subject legislation truly does emphasize accomplishments over rhetoric. The bill directs the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to set annual acreage targets for mechanical thinning projects on National Forests and other public lands. Under the bill, agencies are to double their acreage targets by 2025 and quadruple them by 2027,” said O’Toole.
O’Toole concluded by listing the positive effects of proper forest management.
“By bringing together changemakers and working collaboratively, we can change the paradigm of forest management. Success will mean healthier forests, healthier wildlife populations, more prosperous and dynamic local communities, more recreation opportunities, greater economic benefits, and much-needed security in our water supplies,” stated O’Toole.
For more information on O’Toole’s testimony and the hearing, click here.