Bennet, Gardner Introduce Legislation to Expand Collaborative Forest Work

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Conservation, Forestry, and Natural Resources, and U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) today introduced legislation to reauthorize and expand the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP). This critical program, which helps fund collaborative and community-based forest management, has a proven track record of improving forest health, reducing wildfire risk, and supporting rural communities.

“In Colorado, collaborative forest projects support local jobs, improve wildlife habitat, and reduce hazardous fuels in critical watersheds. These projects—which bring together local governments, timber and utility stakeholders, and conservation groups—reflect the collaborative way Coloradans do business,” said Bennet, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Conservation, Forestry, and Natural Resources. “As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I’ll work hard to reauthorize this important program and ensure it receives robust funding.”

“The Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program is a commonsense policy to keep our forests healthy and to prevent wildfires,” said Gardner. “This community-based approach recognizes the importance of local knowledge when it comes to forest management and ensures decisions are made with input from the people who live in and around our forests, and the success of the program on the Uncompahgre Plateau and along the front range of Colorado are a testament to this approach. This bipartisan legislation will allow this program to continue and I look forward to seeing it become law soon.”

This bipartisan legislation would extend the program through 2029, and expand its reach by doubling authorized funding from $40 million to $80 million per year. The program requires various local stakeholders to collaborate, resulting in stronger relationships on the ground, better projects, and a decreased risk of conflict and litigation.

In Colorado, the Uncompahgre Partnership and Front Range Roundtable are two successful CFLRP projects that demonstrate the importance of collaborative efforts to restore forest health and reduce wildfire risk.

To date, 23 CFLRP projects in 14 states have sold more than 2.5 billion board feet of timber; created $1.4 billion in local labor income; and improved 760 miles of trails for sports enthusiasts and recreation. On average, CFLRP creates or maintains 5,400 jobs each year at current funding levels—a number that would likely increase if funding is expanded, as proposed by today’s bill. In addition, CFLRP has reduced the risk of megafires on more than 2.9 million acres.

The legislation was referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, where Bennet will be working to include the reauthorization in the upcoming Farm Bill.