In response to the U.S. Forest Service’s Wildfire Crisis Strategy announced today, American Forests President and Chief Executive Officer Jad Daley released the following statement:
The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) 10-year Wildfire Crisis Strategy represents a monumental commitment to taking science-driven steps to reduce catastrophic wildfires, protect communities, and improve the health of our forests and wildlife. Bold restoration strategies together with climate-informed post-fire reforestation are timely and necessary; preventing the next wildfire starts with how we restore both before and after wildfire, and how we reforest.
Climate change alone has already doubled wildfire extent since the mid-1980s and increased risk factors by 50 percent. Yet, when coupled with excess fuel loading due to over 100 years of fire suppression and more encroachment by development on forests, risks of uncharacteristically severe and devastating wildfires have grown significantly.
To ensure that our forests are resilient to catastrophic fires and their lasting effects, we need to utilize partnerships to advance cross-boundary restoration. As deployment of this framework continues over the next decade, American Forests is primed to bring our nearly 150 years of restoration experience to bear through continued collaboration with the USFS, states, tribes and other partnering organizations.
We are optimistic that funding outlined in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) can be integrated into this historic wildfire strategy to reduce fire risks to communities and get boots and new trees on the ground quickly following fire.
The IIJA represents one of the largest infusions of wildfire risk reduction and forest restoration funding the USFS has ever received. This includes permanent access to the full Reforestation Trust Fund, $200 million for public lands revegetation including the national seed and seedling reforestation strategy, as well as reintegration of traditional ecological knowledge.
The Wildfire Crisis Strategy is the right start to addressing the ongoing wildfire crisis. American Forests looks forward to continuing to work hand-in-hand with the Forest Service and partnering entities to develop an implementation plan and get this important work into action.