Governor Steve Bullock today unveiled a comprehensive report resulting from work conducted under his tenure as Chairman of the Western Governors’ Association (WGA). The report was released during the WGA’s Annual Meeting in Whitefish, Montana.
“The National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative is a mechanism to bring states, federal land managers, private landowners and other stakeholders together to discuss issues and opportunities in forest and rangeland management,” said Governor Bullock. “Although balancing competing interests in the West is difficult, we know it’s possible to provide economic opportunities for our citizens while conserving and protecting the spectacular landscapes that inspire residents and visitors who travel across the world to experience them.”
Upon assuming the role of Chair of the Western Governors’ Association in July 2016, Governor Bullock proposed the WGA pursue the National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative. The goals of the initiative are to:
- Examine existing forest and rangeland management authorities and programs to determine their strengths and weaknesses;
- Perform a detailed investigation of the role of collaboratives in landscape restoration;
- Create a mechanism for states and land managers to share best practices, case studies and policy options for forest and rangeland management; and
- Recommend improved forest and rangeland management authorities and encourage more effective collaboration.
The initiative has since assembled a wide range of experts and stakeholders from throughout the West to share insights on land management practices and identify improvements that will enable western states to develop healthy, resilient landscapes and communities. The report outlines the first year of initiatives work and includes both administrative and legislative recommendations that touch upon the following areas:
- Reforming federal wildfire budget practices to allow for more investment in efforts to build resilience and reduce catastrophic wildfire risk;
- Partnering to advance forest and rangeland management projects across ownership boundaries to achieve landscape-scale goals and streamline process;
- Providing state-led investment to support collaboration, prioritize limited resources, and ensure coordinated and effective federal, state and local government engagement;
- Augmenting capacity and streamlining the effective and efficient environmental analysis and implementation of federal forests and rangeland restoration projects;
- Strengthening markets for forest products and diversified rangeland goods and services that can support forest and rangeland restoration objectives; and
- Pursuing new statutory flexibility and authorities to advance landscape-scale restoration projects, and support high-impact programs.
“I’m confident this initiative will inspire further commitment among western governors and our partners to continue working together, in a bipartisan way and on a collaborative basis, to promote the health and resilience of our forests and rangelands,” Bullock concluded.
The full report can be accessed here: http://westgov.org/reports/national-forest-and-rangeland-management-initiative-special-report.