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What They Are Saying: The Resilient Federal Forests Act


WASHINGTON, D.C.,
July 27, 2021

Last week, 70 members introduced the bipartisan Resilient Federal Forests Act with the backing of 90 organizations.

“Catastrophic wildfires release millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, damage fragile ecosystems, and threaten the lives and livelihoods of Americans. Implementing active forest management practices is the best way to increase the resilience of America’s forests and prevent devastating wildfire events. The American Conservation Coalition thanks Ranking Member Westerman for leading this effort to streamline and improve the federal government’s approach to this threat.” Quill Robinson, vice president of government affairs, American Conservation Coalition

“The Resilient Federal Forests Act recognizes we can improve the health and resiliency of our forests through science-based active management. This legislation gives our public lands managers and scientists new policy tools to address catastrophic wildfires that increasingly threaten our communities, natural landscapes, watersheds, and wildlife habitat. The Resilient Federal Forests Act will reduce the cost and time it takes for federal agencies to implement needed forest health projects, and will help mitigate the impacts of overstocked conditions, climate change, drought, insect infestations and tree deaths that are fueling today’s mega-fires. Finally, it leverages the strengths and expertise of our domestic forest products industry to reduce these risks while supporting family-wage jobs in our communities.” Travis Joseph, president and CEO, American Forest Resource Council

“The American Sheep Industry Association strongly supports the Resilient Federal Forests Act and thanks Ranking Member Westerman for his leadership on this issue. We are especially pleased that this legislation recognizes the role targeted livestock grazing has on reducing noxious weeds and hazardous fuel management. We know that targeted grazing supports overall range health and for decades the sheep industry and our members have provided this service, often without federal recognition of the myriad of benefits. Additionally, by addressing obstructionist and frivolous lawsuits, this legislation paves the way for our nation’s forests to once again be managed for the benefit and enjoyment of the public, not through litigation as has too often been the case.” Susan Shultz, president, American Sheep Industry Association

“The ongoing wildfires in the Pacific Northwest demand a more aggressive approach to federal forestland management that is focused on fire mitigation to protect public safety, property and contiguous forests. The U.S. Forest Service needs the resources and support to comprehensively address this challenge. The American Wood Council is committed to working with leaders at the federal, state, and local levels to prevent wildfires and thanks Congressman Westerman for his work on this important issue.”Jackson Morrill, CEO, American Wood Council

“The Arkansas Forestry Association applauds Congressman Westeman for his commitment to finding solutions that address the health of our nation’s forests, particularly our national forests and public lands that have long been plagued by barriers to good management. Everyone can agree that we want and need healthy forests. Ranking Member Westerman, as the only professional forester in Congress, is uniquely qualified to craft comprehensive solutions like the Resilient Federal Forests Act. These common sense, science-based and proven solutions need to be implemented right now, before millions more acres of our treasured national forests are destroyed by catastrophic wildfire. Healthy, well-managed working forests – whether public or private, provide abundant natural climate solutions, clean water, improved wildlife habitat, economic growth for rural communities, expanded opportunities for diverse collaboration, and so much more. The membership of the Arkansas Forestry Association trusts Congressman Westerman’s colleagues will join him in creating the tools our agencies need to implement vital forest management activities to ensure America’s forests are healthy and productive.”Max Braswell, executive vice president, Arkansas Forestry Association

“Many of California’s forests, like forests across the western United States, are unhealthy and at significant risk of high-severity wildfire, insect and disease epidemics, and other threats. In 2020, over 4 million acres in California were burned by wildfire. With all signs pointing to another severe wildfire season, we must provide a comprehensive solution that will increase the pace and scale of forest restoration. This includes examining current forest management policies, further reducing forest fuels, and expanding programs and funding for forest health. The Resilient Federal Forests Act would incentivize collaborative projects, accelerate salvage harvest operations, and simplify environmental analysis while maintaining the integrity of environmental review. We are appreciative of Rep. Westerman’s ongoing commitment to this critical issue and will continue to work with him to promote healthier, more resilient forests.” Jamie Johansson, president, California Farm Bureau

“The Colville Tribes supports the Resilient Federal Forests Act because it will provide new tools for Indian tribes and federal agencies to reduce fuels and otherwise treat federal forest lands that are adjacent to reservation boundaries. The Act would also increase tribal opportunities to develop renewal energy using their forests. All of this will increase protection for tribal communities from fire and disease risks from adjacent federal lands.” Andrew Joseph Jr., chairman, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation

“As wildfires increasingly wreak havoc on forests and wildlife habitat, the Resilient Federal Forests Act is a practical approach to reform federal forest management policies. We are appreciative of Congressman Westerman’s continued leadership to provide innovative tools to improve forest health and increase the resiliency of forests to catastrophic wildfires.” Jeff Crane, president and CEO, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation

“Combatting climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time, and we need to do everything we can to protect our forests from the increasing threat of wildfires. We applaud Congressman Westerman for his steadfast focus on meeting these challenges with natural climate solutions like active forest management that can be implemented now.” – John Keppler, chairman and CEO, Enviva  

“The current, disastrous drought and the horrific damage caused by the Bootleg Fire here in Klamath County underscores the importance of improving on-the-ground management actions that can lead to improved forest health, which benefits every Western watershed. Congressman Westerman’s legislation gives the Forest Service the tools they need to improve forest health and reduce the risk and severity of catastrophic wildfires on federal forest lands.” Dan Keppen, executive director, Family Farm Alliance

“Our nation’s forests and communities, urban and rural, are facing unprecedented challenges from forest fires. Over the past 100 years, Georgia’s private forest landowners have worked closely with local, state and federal governments to prevent and react to wildfires. Rep. Bruce Westerman’s Resilient Federal Forests Act (RFFA) will help Georgia be prepared to deal with forest fires as we continue to add population, increase the forest-urban interface, and adjust to a changing climate.” Georgia Forestry Association

“The Resilient Federal Forests Act provides the U.S. Forest Service with the vital tools they need to efficiently and effectively improve the health and sustainability of our national forest system. The Act recognizes that forest management is essential to long term resiliency of forestlands, wildlife water resources. Loggers, hardwood mills and manufacturers are significant contributors to the local economies which surround these forests and these operations rely on the raw materials they provide to make the forest products that consumers around the world rely on and enjoy every day.”The Hardwood Federation

“The Resilient Federal Forests Act offers real solutions to improve the health of our national forests. By addressing the real obstacles to active forest management, this important legislation will reduce the risks of wildfire and protect our communities and infrastructure. It will support clean air and water, improve wildlife habitat, accelerate reforestation and post-fire recovery, and promote collaboration and shared stewardship among states, tribes and stakeholders. As we continue to lose our forests to wildfire, insects, and disease, it is past time for Congress to pass such comprehensive legislation.” Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities

“As wildfires continue to burn across the country, it is imperative Congress act to remove unnecessary barriers to active forest management. Fortunately, Ranking Member Westerman introduced the Resilient Federal Forests Act which will ensure the Forest Service is not hamstrung when working to reduce the risk of wildfires.”Garrett Bess, vice president, Heritage Action

“The Intermountain Forest Association appreciates the common-sense solutions presented by Rep. Westerman to help address the intensifying issues of insect caused mortality, and forest conditions that promote dangerous and ecologically damaging wildfires impacting Forest Service lands across the West. Numerous success stories have proven that forest management is effective in abating the impacts from insects and wildfires, and it is critical to increase management activities as additional national forests are categorized as carbon sources.” – Ben Wudtke, executive director, Intermountain Forest Association

“Counties play a key role in ensuring public safety, environmental stewardship and economic opportunities in and around federal forests. The Resilient Federal Forests Act will strengthen the partnership between counties and the federal government, streamline forest health regulations and reduce wildfire risks. Active management of federal lands and forests will help safeguard these resources for generations to come. We thank Ranking Member Westerman for sponsoring this legislation and encourage Congress to pass it swiftly.” Matthew Chase, executive director, National Association of Counties

“NAHB believes increasing domestic lumber production from federal lands, both as a means to improve housing affordability and address the resilience of our national forests, must be a top priority of Congress and the Biden administration. NAHB strongly supports Rep. Westerman’s Resilient Federal Forests Act, which significantly reduces red tape that prevents the U.S. Forest Service from better managing its timber lands and increases the delivery of domestic timber products into the market.”John “Chuck” Fowke, chairman of the board, National Association of Home Builders

“State Foresters have a strong interest in the health and productivity of all forests. America’s forests are up against destructive wildfire, pests and disease, drought and other threats. These stressors continue to drive uncharacteristic landscape-level change on federal forestlands. Approximately 81 million acres of the National Forest System are in need of accelerated treatments and on-the-ground management practices to begin the restoration of our federal forests. Representative Westerman’s bill, ‘The Resilient Federal Forests Act’ would streamline implementation of active management projects that help reduce wildfire risks and boost forest resilience.”Joe Fox, president, National Association of State Foresters

“We are appreciative of Ranking Member Westerman’s introduction of important legislation that provides the U.S. Forest Service the tools it needs to help safeguard our nation from catastrophic wildfires while simultaneously managing our forests to enhance health and wildlife habitat.” Nick Pinizzotto, president and CEO, National Deer Association

“Healthy forests are a legacy for future generations that can sustainably provide environmental, social, and economic benefits, including being part of the solution to climate change. Many of our lands are adjacent to federal forests and we recognize that collaboration among forest owners is a critical tool to help reduce forest fire risk, benefit biodiversity, and protect water ecosystems.” Eric Cremers, president and CEO, PotlatchDeltic

“Dead and dying trees from drought, insect infestation and diseases in overstocked forests do not sequester carbon. Very often, the forest fires that result start on poorly-managed public lands but end up consuming thousands of acres of private land adjacent to the public forests at great expense to the landowners. These catastrophic events are virtually uninsurable and we must become better stewards of our federal forests that improve our quality of life in so many ways. Rayonier wholeheartedly endorses Ranking Member Westerman’s Resilient Federal Forests Act which calls for science-based and practical solutions to mitigate wildfire originating on federal forestland.”Mike Bell, vice president, Rayonier

“Foresters and biologists understand how to improve the health and resiliency of our forests, but cumbersome regulations and litigation frequently prevent completion of essential management work. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation supports H.R. 2607, the Resilient Federal Forests Act, as a critical step in bringing federal, state, tribal and local forest managers together to collaborate on forest management projects that will reduce wildfires and create more elk habitat.”Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

“Our National Forest Lands are in critical need of management to restore resilience, protect them from catastrophic wildfires, and enhance forest health and quality as wildlife habitat. We appreciate Representative Westerman’s efforts and welcome discussion regarding the critical need for the Resilient Federal Forests Act.” Ben Jones, president and CEO, Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society

“SAF is grateful to Representative Westerman for continuing to champion investing in long-term forest health through science-based, active management. The Resilient Federal Forests Act delivers the tools and freedom forestry and natural resources professionals need now to restore healthy landscapes, promote fire-adapted communities, revitalize local economies, and maximize the carbon benefits of our nation’s public forests.” Terry Baker, CEO, Society of American Foresters

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