Bennet, Merkley, Crapo Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Expand Collaborative Forest Work

Washington, D.C. — Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet joined U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) in introducing the bipartisan Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) Reauthorization Act of 2023. This legislation would reauthorize and expand the CFLRP, which helps fund landscape-scale, collaborative and community-based forest management. The CFLRP has a proven track record of improving forest health, reducing wildfire risk, and supporting rural communities. In the 2018 Farm Bill, Bennet led the effort to double the authorized funding for CFLRP to $80 million.

“Collaborative forest projects help create jobs throughout Colorado while restoring wildlife habitat and managing fuel for wildfires.  In Colorado, they bring together people across local government, industry, and conservation advocacy to make our forests more resilient and help our communities adapt to a changing climate,” said Bennet. “As a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, I’ll  work to expand this valuable program for Colorado in the upcoming Farm Bill.”

First authorized in 2009, CFLRP has treated and restored 5.7 million acres of forestland, and has helped improve 1,000 miles of trails and maintain 25,000 miles of roads. In Colorado, CFLRP projects, such as the Uncompahgre Partnership, Front Range Roundtable, and Rio Chama  successfully demonstrate the importance of collaboration to restore forest health and reduce wildfire risk. This bill would extend CFLRP for another ten years, increase the size and scope of the program to reduce wildfire risk, and make other program improvements.

“CFLRP has been a successful approach to collaborative forest restoration. Our research has found that it leads to better partnerships and accountability, landscape-scale planning and implementation, and strong community-based partnerships with the US Forest Service, all to restore forest conditions and reduce fire hazard on the landscape. This is great for Colorado and I appreciate the Senator’s leadership on these important issues,” said Courtney Schultz, Associate Professor of Forest & Natural Resource Policy and Director of the Public Lands Policy Group and CSU Climate Adaptation Partnership at Colorado State University.

"Ongoing congressional support of CFLRP is critical to ensuring the resilience of NM and CO landscapes and communities as they face the challenges of a climate altered 21st century. Resilient watersheds are the lifeblood of the southwest. The CFLR program anchors landscape-scale forest and watershed planning, implementation and monitoring in local values while offering opportunities to leverage funding and investments that increase the pace and scale of priority work,” said Dana Guinn, Mountain Studies Institute and Eytan Krasilovsky, Forest Stewards Guild, 2-3-2 partnership coordinators.

“America’s forests are under threat like never before. A changing climate, drought, uncharacteristically catastrophic megafires, and other threats are driving an unprecedented decline in our forests, a decline that jeopardizes the many benefits they provide. The Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program has been a game changer for our forests, supporting community-driven restoration efforts that improve the health of our forests while supporting local economies, growing recreational opportunities, and restoring wildlife habitats. Reauthorizing and expanding this program will build on more than a decade of restoration efforts, providing greater certainty and opportunity to grow this successful program in the years to come. This is and should remain a win-win for people and nature. We are grateful for the bipartisan support for continuing this program’s success and look forward to advancing this legislation,” said Cecilia Clavet, senior policy advisor at the Nature Conservancy.

This legislation is supported by a broad cross-section of the timber industry, rural economic development entities, and environmental organizations including The Nature Conservancy. 

In addition to Bennet, Merkley, and Crapo, this legislation is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.).

The full text of the bill is available HERE. A summary of the bill is available HERE.