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Westerman Statement on Biden Forestry Announcement


WASHINGTON, D.C., April 22, 2022 -

Today, President Joe Biden signed an executive order on forestry. House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) issued the following statement in response:

"I'm pleased to see President Biden finally recognizing something congressional Republicans have promoted for years: that properly managed forests play a key role in reducing atmospheric carbon and also provide clean air, clean water, quality wildlife habitat, excellent recreational opportunities and beautiful vistas. Healthy forests are absolutely essential to ecosystems around the world, but they don't just happen by chance. It takes active and science-driven management to keep forests healthy and resilient to wildfires, insects and diseases. Old trees are important, but so are young trees and promoting forests regeneration and growth. Unprecedented destruction of trees like the Giant Sequoias in California are case in point. More than a century of mismanagement has caused Giant Sequoias to burn at alarming rates, and imminent action is needed to return science-based management to this landscape. Continuing to mismanage federal lands or locking them up and throwing away the key is not an option. This is why I've introduced a host of forestry legislation over the years, including the bipartisan Trillion Trees Act, which would go even further than this executive order in ensuring our forests are properly managed and remain carbon sinks, not sources. The question remains, will this administration work with us in a bipartisan manner to accomplish long-term good for America's forests? I hope that's the case, and that today's executive order is more than just rhetoric. We have a long way to go in improving forest health nationwide, and legislation like the bipartisan Trillion Trees Act is the necessary first step."

Background

Today's announcement comes as the U.S. is facing the start of another potentially historic wildfire season. In 2021, more than half of all acres that burned in the U.S. occurred on U.S. Forest Service (USFS) managed lands.

Wildfires are a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions that wreak havoc on the atmosphere. In the western U.S., wildfires released a record 130 million tons of carbon last year alone. Wildfire smoke in the Pacific Northwest is causing atmospheric carbon monoxide levels to spike. Many of these carbon-emitting wildfires could have been less severe had USFS implemented more proactive forest management activities, including mechanical treatments. Eighty million acres of USFS lands are at immediate risk of wildfire. Without action, more USFS lands will become a net source of carbon emissions.

To combat these catastrophic fires and improve forest health, Westerman introduced the Trillion Trees Act, bipartisan legislation that would solidify the United States as a global leader of the One Trillion Trees Initiative to conserve, restore and grow 1 trillion trees worldwide. Studies show that restoring 1 trillion new trees globally would sequester 205 gigatons of carbon, an amount equivalent to two-thirds of all manmade emissions remaining in the atmosphere today.


Contact: Committee Press Office 202-225-2761

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