Wyoming State Forester Kelly Norris Testifies on Wildfire Threat

March 12, 2024

Senator Barrasso invited WY State Forester Kelly Norris

to testify before the Energy Committee hearing on wildfire risk

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 State Forester, to the committee. Ms. Norris testified at a legislative hearing to examine the Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission’s report. Ms. Norris previously testified before the committee in 2023.

Ranking member Barrasso introduced Ms. Norris to the committee prior to his testimony.

“I am delighted to have with us today, Kelly Norris. She has testified previously before this committee. She is Wyoming State Forester,” said Senator Barrasso. “She has worked for the Wyoming State Forestry Division for fourteen years. We’re very fortunate to have her because she had experience working as a forester for both the state of Wyoming as well as the U.S. Forest Service. She has a year’s worth of critical on the ground knowledge and is a valuable resource to the community and to this committee. I am grateful you’ve taken the time and the responsibility to protect Wyoming’s forests. Thank you for joining us today.”

During the hearing, Barrasso highlighted how Wyoming and other western states are bracing for another devastating wildfire season.  

“Our federal forests are in dire need of effective management. In recent years, Wyoming and the other western states have endured wildfires of unprecedented size and destructiveness. These wildfires are wreaking havoc on our forests and our communities,” said Senator Barrasso. “As summer approaches, rural communities are again bracing for what will likely be another devastating wildfire season. We can’t just keep throwing more money and more resources at the problem, we need to get back to the basics. We must start managing the forest in a serious and credible way. We need to increase the pace and scale of our wildfire mitigation activities – that includes timber harvesting and hazardous fuel reduction.”

In her testimony, Ms. Norris spoke to the various policy recommendations within the Wildfire Commission Report. She addressed coordination between states and federal agencies, the need for flexibility that would allow federal funds to move across ownership boundaries, and the importance of proactive forest management.

“America’s federally managed forests face serious threats. Wyoming and many other states are very concerned on how a national level old growth initiative could contradict the U.S. Forest Service’s wild fire crisis strategy. With wildfire being the number one cause in the loss of old growth forests, it is imperative that the U.S. Forest Service continues to prioritize wildfire crisis. Keeping laser focused on addressing the wildfire crisis will result in the agency being much farther along in protecting, maintaining, and recruiting old growth forests,” said Norris.

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