Coalition letter sent to congressional leaders in support of investments in wildfire resilience and forest roads

The National Association of State Foresters and eleven other natural resources organizations have sent a letter to House and Senate leadership requesting that forests be included in a final infrastructure package.

Investing in Wildfire Resilience. Restoring America’s forests, watersheds, and rangeland – upgrading our natural infrastructure – is an opportunity to build climate resilience and create or sustain millions of good-paying jobs. There are approximately 51 million acres across all forest ownerships in need of highest priority wildfire resilience activities in order to protect communities and watersheds from wildfire. Addressing the ever-increasing threat of wildfires represents a critical down payment toward efforts to reduce the impacts of catastrophic wildfires, while contributing to economic recovery and addressing climate change. Chief Christiansen has told Congress that a paradigm shift is needed to address imminent wildfire threats. This requires a surge in investment in forest restoration and community resilience, new strategies for workforce and program deployment, cooperation across ownership boundaries, and support through continued maintenance of resilience investments over time to reduce risks across Federal, State, local, and private lands. We recommend a $50 billion to $60 billion investment over ten years in forest infrastructure for the highest priority work to reduce wildfire risks and community adaptation.

Investing in Forest Roads. The National Forest System (NFS) includes an extensive roads network of more than 370,000 miles that supports the NFS’ multiple use mandate. With 159,000 miles of trails, hundreds of thousands of culverts, and more than 13,000 bridges to maintain, the USFS infrastructure challenge is only growing. Less than 20% of roads through national forests are fully maintained to planned safety and environmental standards. The 65,000 miles of USFS passenger roads alone need $3.2 billion in repairs. The roads system needs investments to ensure it provides the appropriate and safe level of access for recreation, resource management, and public safety, while minimizing environmental harm. A comprehensive transportation platform should include provisions addressing roads in national forests, including: the Federal Land Transportation Program and the Legacy Roads and Trails Program.

Read the full letter of support by clicking the link below.

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