Wyoming’s Kelly Norris Testifies in Senate on Wildfire Risk

June 8, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), welcomed Ms. Kelly Norris, Wyoming Interim State Forester, to the committee. Ms. Norris testified at a legislative hearing to examine the federal response to escalating wildfires and to evaluate reforms to land management and wildland firefighter recruitment and retention.

Barrasso introduced Norris to the committee prior to her testimony.

“Kelly has worked for the Wyoming State Forestry Division for nearly thirteen years. She has a degree in forestry from the University of Wisconsin. In January, Governor Gordon appointed her to serve as our Interim State Forester in the state of Wyoming. Kelly has experience working as a forester for both the State of Wyoming, and before that, the U.S. Forest Service. She has years’ worth of critical, on-the-ground knowledge, and is a valuable resource on the many issues we will be discussing today. Kelly, congrats again on your appointment, and thanks so much for joining us today from Wyoming in Washington,” said Barrasso.

Click here to watch Norris’ testimony.

In her testimony, Norris discussed the challenge of coordinating wildfire response across multiple jurisdictions:

“In my experience, Wyoming has had wildfires that started to burn in one county on private lands and over the next several days, spread across three different counties, burning private, state, and BLM lands. It can get more complicated if the wildfire crosses state lines which can involve a different federally designated region, such as at the Montana state line. As the size of wildfires continue to increase across the landscape, so have the issues associated with managing a multi-jurisdictional wildfire,” Norris testified.

Norris also highlighted the importance of active forest management.

“Active management, including intentional harvesting, hazard fuel treatments, and prescribed fire can better protect our forests and the communities that depend on them. Last year’s Fish Creek Fire, located in the Black Hills, was stopped in a fuel break treatment area. The fuel break saved multiple homes, while helping to bring down the intensity of the fire. This gave our firefighters the opportunity to suppress and control the wildfire safely and effectively,” said Norris.

For more information on Norris’ testimony and the hearing, click here.