September 22, 2022

Manchin, Barrasso Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Reduce Wildfire Risk, Improve Forest Health

Washington, DC — Today, U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), and John Barrasso (R-WY), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), introduced the Promoting Effective Forest Management Act of 2022. This bipartisan legislation would reduce catastrophic wildfire risk and improve forest health.

“Wildfires are a dangerous and serious issue that affect communities across the country, which is why I am proud to cosponsor the bipartisan Promoting Effective Forest Management Act of 2022. Our legislation will advance efforts to reduce wildfire risk and support strategies to restore the health of our National Forests and public lands,” said Chairman Manchin. “I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this important legislation to protect our forests and their surrounding communities.”

“We are facing brutal wildfires across the West that threaten Wyoming’s forests and communities,” said Ranking Member Barrasso. “They are destroying lives and livelihoods, wiping out wildlife and habitat, and reducing air quality. Our bipartisan bill will fight back against wildfire risk. It directs the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to cut red tape and dramatically increase their wildfire mitigation projects. The bill will also take steps to help avoid critical staffing shortages in the wildland firefighting workforce. We must protect our forests and our communities from burning. I’m thankful to Chairman Manchin for working with me on this important legislation”

“We applaud Chairman Manchin and Ranking Member Barrasso for setting clear expectations for forest management on our Federal forests. For the last decade, Congress has increasingly provided the tools and resources for the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to begin turning the tide on the fire and forest health crisis. Now it’s time to begin holding these agencies accountable for results. The Promoting Effective Forest Management Act ensures that Forest Service leaders will be held accountable for using the authorities and resources Congress has provided.” – Bill Imbergamo, executive director of the Federal Forest Resource Coalition
“I commend Ranking Member Barrasso and Chairman Manchin for addressing two very important issues to wildland firefighters in the Promoting Effective Forest Management Act of 2022.  Break-in-service limitations and housing policies are in need of common-sense reforms, and I would like to thank the leaders of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for not only taking on these issues but also for doing so in a bi-partisan manner.” – Kelly Martin, president of Grassroots Wildland Firefighters
“In a year where wildfires have burned nearly 7 million acres, the need to make forest lands more resilient for wildfire has never been more evident. We thank Chairman Manchin and Ranking Member Barrasso for their efforts to direct more strategic, expanded use of targeted tools to address the conditions that precipitate dangerous wildfires. History tells us, and science confirms, that livestock grazing is an effective tool in managing annual grasses and residual biomass that make fires hotter and more destructive. Increasing the use of grazing as part of a larger strategy will make landscapes more resilient, reduce fire severity, and make conditions safer for land managers and fire fighters alike.” – Kaitlynn Glover, executive director of NCBA Natural Resources and the Public Lands Council
“The aging workforce is a threat to the future viability of America’s timber industry. Workforce development programs will be critical to addressing the projected workforce shortage. The training program in the Promoting Effective Forest Management Act of 2022 will provide a pipeline for essential workers to receive professional training. Additionally, the US timber industry is capital intensive. Low interest loans and loan guarantees will assist in acquisition and investment in modern mechanized equipment. The American Loggers Council appreciates the congressional recognition of loggers and their role as the first link in the forest products supply chain.” – Scott Dane, executive director of the American Loggers Council
“Sportsmen and sportswomen see the conditions in our forests as they utilize public lands, and we understand the need to assess the benefits of nature-based climate solutions, such as restoring headwaters and wetlands, to the long-term mitigation of drought and wildfire impacts across the West. We appreciate the thoughtful work of Senators Manchin and Barrasso in developing the Promoting Effective Forest Management Act, and look forward to working with them to refine the proposal as it moves through Congress.” – Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
“The Mule Deer Foundation commends Ranking Member Barrasso and Chairman Manchin for their efforts to find mutually agreeable and bipartisan solutions to the dire forest health and wildlife habitat issues currently facing our nation. The Mule Deer Foundation is deeply appreciative of the inclusion of a provision in the Promoting Effective Forest Management Act of 2022 that would require the use of the Sage Grouse/Mule Deer Habitat Categorical Exclusion, and others to implement good restoration work in a timely and efficient manner. The MDF looks forward to working with the Committee to refine additional provisions as the bill works its way through the Committee process.” – Joel Pedersen, president and CEO of the Mule Deer Foundation
“We applaud Senator John Barrasso and Senator Joe Manchin for their leadership and bipartisan work to give public lands managers the tools and clear direction they need to address our nation’s growing forest health and wildfire crisis. This legislation accelerates the pace and scale of science-based management to address the serious threats to our national forests, including climate change and catastrophic wildfires, while increasing accountability and transparency to ensure this important work is being done. This comprehensive solution also gives local governments a stronger voice on federal forest management and helps put more boots on the ground by supporting workforce development in both the private sector and the U.S. Forest Service. We encourage Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress to come together to pass this legislation for healthier and more resilient forests.” – Travis Joseph, president & CEO of American Forest Resource Council  
“Our national forests are in desperate need of active management to increase resilience and reduce the potential of catastrophic wildfire. Active management supports job creation while also improving wildlife habitat and protecting our local communities. The Boone and Crockett Club thanks Senator Barrasso and Senator Manchin for their leadership on the Promoting Effective Forest Management Act that supports the U.S. Forest Service’s efforts to improve our national forests as outlined in their Confronting the Wildfire Crisis strategy issued at the beginning of this year.” – Tony Schoonen, chief executive officer of Boone and Crockett Club 
“This bipartisan legislation reinforces the decades of science illustrating that we must be more proactive implementing management actions to begin addressing the wildfire crisis impacting our public lands.  Each year we are reminded how fuels accumulations and unhealthy forests push wildfires to threaten communities and ecosystems alike, and that wildfires don’t follow land designations or other “set asides”.  We applaud the efforts in this legislation to begin addressing the wildfire crisis through effective forest management and setting clear targets.” – Ben Wudtke, executive director of Intermountain Forest Association
“The Wyoming Stock Growers Association is genuinely excited by the introduction of the Promoting Effective Forest Management Act of 2022.  We congratulate Senators Barrasso and Manchin for responding comprehensively to the legal and bureaucratic challenges that have hindered forest management for far too long.  WSGA appreciated the recognition of the critical role of livestock grazing in fuels reduction together with expedited reviews of vacant allotments. The provisions incentivizing employees to remain in a location, building community relationships and enhancing their understanding of the local resources addresses a personal goal that I have advocated for with Forest Service leadership for many years.” – Jim Magagna, executive vice president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association
“In the wake of the devastating wildfires ravaging our forests, our air, our water, and our communities, forest managers are handcuffed by a clunky permitting process that prevents them from tackling the crisis. The Promoting Effective Forest Management Act of 2022 would be a significant help by requiring the Forest Service to use existing streamlining tools, identify and address additional obstacles, and take accountability for hitting forest management targets.” – Brian Yablonski, CEO of Property and Environment Research Center (PERC)
“Logging contractors are on the front lines of sustainable forest management and forest restoration in the United States.  Mechanization and the adoption of new technologies have made logging jobs safer and better paying in recent years. However, as these trends continue and we face the challenge of sustainably managing forests in the US, the industry will need to continue to attract a modern workforce with new skills and greater access to professional training. The Promoting Effective Forest Management Act of 2022 would provide a great step forward towards helping the industry build the workforce it needs to help grow, harvest, and restore trees and forests for the future.” – Jim Hourdequin, CEO of the Lyme Timber Company  
“We applaud Senators Barrasso and Manchin for introducing the Promoting Effective Forest Management Act, a bipartisan bill to support forest health and resilience and address critical forestry workforce needs. We are pleased to see Congress putting forth a bipartisan solution to ensure healthy, resilient forests are managed to reduce wildfire risk, track their carbon sequestration and storage, and develop the workforce America needs to maximize the climate benefits of forests.  Guided by quality data and supported by a workforce 2.5 million strong, mostly in rural areas, private working forests have no equal in their ability to sequester and store carbon at scale. With the right support, like we see in this bill, there is even greater potential to optimize carbon sequestration and storage. Forest owners need access to healthy markets for forest products, and robust and accurate data, so they can keep working forests working and continuing to provide clean air and water, wildlife habitat, and good paying jobs in rural communities. We look forward to working with Senators Barrasso and Manchin so and their Senate colleagues to further advance opportunities for growing the natural climate solutions found in private working forests.” – National Alliance of Forest Owners 
Read a summary of the Promoting Effective Forest Management Act of 2022 here.
Read a section-by-section of the Promoting Effective Forest Management Act of 2022 here.