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Public Comment on Forest Restoration and the Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad

A thinning effort in progress under the Four Forest Restoration Initiative in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests in Arizona. ©USDA

On January 27, President Biden issued Executive Order 14008 on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. The U.S. Department of Agriculture subsequently issued a request for public comments related to how the department might best act on President Biden’s directive. As part of the request, the department asked for input on how to address catastrophic wildfires.

PERC weighed in, offering eight suggestions on how to restore national forests and tackle the wildfire crisis. These reforms were based on the new PERC report Fix America’s Forests by Holly Fretwell and Jonathan Wood.

Summary of Recommendations:

It is time to enact market and partnership approaches that will reduce wildfire risk and promote forest ecosystem health. 

Suggested reforms on how to fix America’s forests:

  • Improve and expand the Forest Service’s categorical exclusions under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and work with Congress to improve and expand others
  • Work with the Fish and Wildlife Service to finalize reforms that streamline consultation under the Endangered Species Act for forest restoration projects 
  • Work with Congress to reduce the effects of litigation on the Forest Service’s capacity to restore forests
  • Work with EPA to make it easier to exclude prescribed burns from state emissions calculations under the Clean Air Act
  • Maximize cooperative agreements with private partners to perform more restoration and work with Congress to expand flexibility for the Forest Service to enter longer-term contracts
  • Maximize the Forest Service’s existing Good Neighbor Authority and work with Congress to expand it
  • Work with Congress to establish a Forest Service restoration fund for long-term cost-share partnerships
  • Work with Congress to open timber markets for export

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