July 08, 2021

Neguse Bill to Restore Colorado Lands, Support Wildfire Suppression to Be Considered in House Committee

Neguse’s bipartisan, bicameral legislation, the Joint Chiefs Landscape Restoration Partnership Act is among 5 bills being considered in Neguse’s Subcommittee next week to restore lands and protect water supplies

Washington, D.C.— Next week, Congressman Joe Neguse, Chair of the U.S. Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, will consider 5 pieces of legislation aimed at restoring forests and trails, protecting water supplies, and increasing access to National Parks. Among the bills to be considered is legislation led by Congressman Joe Neguse and Senator Michael Bennet, the Joint Chiefs Landscape Restoration Partnership Act of 2021, which would formally authorize the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership Initiative (Joint Chiefs) to better support forest and grassland restoration projects across public and private land. Colorado has received over $3 million through two Joint Chiefs projects: the San Juan Project and the Northern Front Range Collaboration Watershed Resilience Project. The latter which helped slow the advance of the Cameron Peak Fire, the largest wildfire in Colorado history.

The hearing is scheduled for 1 pm ET/11 am MT on Tuesday, July 13. View the hearing live stream here.

“When I was appointed Chair of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, I made a commitment to use that position to restore our lands and our communities side-by-side,” said Congressman Neguse. “It’s no secret that the wildfires affecting our Colorado communities are getting more brutal each year, and there is a tremendous amount of restoration, preparation, and recovery work to be done. The bills we will be considering are key steps towards strengthening our natural resources workforce while also improving our wildfire preparedness and recovery efforts, and I believe my bill will play an important role in meeting those goals. Formalizing the USDA’s Joint Chiefs Partnership, which has already supported efforts in Colorado, will allow us to provide the program with much-needed funding, and increase accountability and outreach.”

Since USDA launched Joint Chiefs in 2014, the initiative has supported 93 projects, including two in Colorado, and treated 300,000 acres of hazardous fuels, restored 29,000 acres in priority watersheds, and enhanced 200,000 acres of wildlife habitat. The unique nature of this initiative is that it supports voluntary restoration projects across ownership boundaries, so that treatments can occur across a landscape, rather than stopping at the borders of public lands. By formalizing the program, this legislation increases funding allocations to the Joint Chiefs Initiative, ensures transparency and accountability through codified congressional reporting requirements, mandates outreach to potentially affected communities, and directs USDA to support voluntary restoration efforts.  

The Joint Chiefs Landscape Restoration Partnership Act of 2021 has bipartisan, bicameral support, and was co-sponsored by Representative Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) and Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-VA). The Senate companion bill is sponsored by Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Senator John Hoeven (R-ND). The full text of the bill is available here.

Strengthening our dedication to conservation and improving our nation’s wildfire preparedness are two core tenets of Congressman Neguse’s “Restoring Our Lands and Communities” Agenda, which he outlined after his election to Chair the Subcommittee. Read his full agenda here.