The Amendment, Based on Bennet’s Joint Chiefs Landscape Restoration Partnership Act, Will be Included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
Watch Bennet’s Floor Speech on this Amendment HERE
Washington, D.C. – Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet celebrated the passage of his and U.S. Senator John Hoeven’s (R-N.D.) amendment to authorize the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership Initiative (Joint Chiefs). The amendment, which will be included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, will help to restore forests and grasslands, reduce wildfire risk, and protect water supplies. It is based on Bennet and Hoeven’s bipartisan, bicameral Joint Chiefs Landscape Restoration Partnership Act of 2021 which would formally authorize the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership to better support forest and grassland restoration projects across public and private land.
“I'm thrilled our bipartisan amendment to formally authorize the Joint Chiefs program will be included in this infrastructure bill," said Bennet. "This amendment responds directly to the growing wildfire risk we face out West by investing in a broadly supported program that has been a clear success. I thank my colleague, Senator Hoeven, for his terrific partnership on this issue, and I look forward to getting this across the finish line."
"The San Juan Headwaters Forest Health Partnership, based in rural Pagosa Springs, Colorado strongly supports the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership Act of 2021 and is thankful to Senator Bennet for his leadership and work to pass the amendment in the Senate. From 2015 to 2017, Joint Chiefs funding provided a much-needed boost to accomplish on-the-ground work across jurisdictional boundaries in our geography. San Juan Project resources served as a catalyst for informed, collaborative management action that reduced the threat of uncharacteristic wildfire to our community, improved wildlife forage and winter habitat, and protected key water infrastructure and ecosystem services. The success of the San Juan Project garnered public support for forest restoration actions and helped our collaborative and its partners demonstrate our capacity and ability to plan and work together in service to the community and landscape. Codifying the Joint Chiefs' program in law will support new and ongoing efforts that advance local resiliency and on the ground restoration work here in the West," said Dana Guinn, Partnership Coordinator, San Juan Headwaters Forest Health Partnership and Mountain Studies Institute.
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 Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership Amendment would:
- Formally authorize the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership between the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to improve the health and resilience of forest landscapes and grasslands across federal and non-federal land.
- Support voluntary activities and projects across public and private land that reduce wildfire risk, protect water supplies, or improve wildlife habitat for at-risk species.
- Prioritize projects that reduce wildfire risk in municipal watersheds or the wildland-urban interface, are developed through a collaborative process, or increase forest business and workforce opportunities.
- Require the USDA to perform outreach, provide public notice, and make information on the program available to landowners, tribes, states, and local governments.
- Improve accountability by requiring a review of program delivery, data, and outcomes, and establishing annual reporting requirements to Congress.
- Authorize $90 million annually for the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership, to be split between the USFS (at least 40%) and the NRCS (at least 40%). The remaining funds may also be used for technical assistance, project development, or local capacity.
Bennet spoke on the Senate floor earlier this evening in support of the amendment. Watch his full speech HERE.