Why It Matters: Currently, the U.S. Forest Service and other public land managers such as the Bureau of Land Management are unable to make significant headway in efforts to address forest restoration needs and to improve fish and wildlife habitat. This legislation takes a pragmatic approach to addressing wildfire threat and improving wildlife habitat. CSF is excited to see Chair Manchin and Ranking Member Barrasso continue to prioritize efforts to improve the health of our nation’s forests and public lands.
- On Thursday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a legislative hearing on a number of bills including the Promoting Effective Forest Management Act of 2022 (S. 4904), a bill strongly supported by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF).
- S. 4904 is led by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Vice Chair Senator Joe Manchin and CSC Member Senator John Barrasso, who respectively serve as the Chair and Ranking Member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
- This bipartisan bill includes many provisions that have been longstanding CSF priorities in our efforts to promote forest health, reduce wildfire risk, and enhance fish and wildlife habitat on National Forests and other public lands.
Last Thursday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on a top CSF priority that seeks to improve the health of our forests and federal public lands known as the Promoting Effective Forest Management Act of 2022.
This bipartisan bill, led by CSC Members Senators Manchin and Barrasso, seeks to improve forest health, reduce wildfire risks, and bolster fish and wildlife habitat by setting specific requirements for the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service land management agencies. Prior to the hearing, CSF submitted a letter in strong support of this bill. In the letter, CSF highlighted the need for this legislation and the benefits it would have on fish and wildlife habitat and the health of our forests.
Specifically, this legislation sets pragmatic and reasonable forest management goals by establishing annual mechanical thinning targets, incrementally increasing acreage targets over time, requiring annual reporting of the status of meeting thinning goals, and increasing transparency for reporting fire migration work. Collectively, these requirements will significantly improve the health of our nation’s forests by leveraging authorities already in place. Presently underutilized authorities include categorical exclusions for collaborative restoration projects, wildfire resilience projects, and greater sage-grouse and mule deer habitat projects provided by the Healthy Forest Restoration Act of 2003; emergency action to mitigate against wildfire threat and a categorical exclusion for fuel breaks provided by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act; and stewardship end-resulting contracts provided by the Wildfire Suppression Funding and Forest Management Activities Act.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation appreciates the continued efforts of CSC Members Chair Manchin and Ranking Member Barrasso to improve the health of forests and to improve fish and wildlife habitat. CSF looks forward to working with these offices to further advance this important legislation.