Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet introduced the Outdoor Restoration Partnership Act to create or sustain over two million jobs in the outdoors by investing in forest and watershed restoration. This legislation will provide direct support to local, collaborative efforts to restore habitat, expand outdoor access, and mitigate wildfire. It will also spur federal investment in areas at high-risk of wildfire, with high priority wildlife habitat, or in the wildland-urban interface – where homes and businesses meet wildland vegetation — to build climate resilience in the West.
The Family Farm Alliance has long held that the best natural resource solutions are unique and come from the local, watershed and state level. Alliance President Pat O’Toole was quoted in Senator Bennet’s press release. “The future of the rural West will be defined by the inter-relationship between local communities, farmers, ranchers, foresters and constructive conservation groups working together to balance production and conservation,” said Mr. O’Toole. “Senator Bennet’s bill tangibly moves us forward towards implementing this vision.”
Senator Bennet, who chairs the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry’s Subcommittee on Conservation, Climate, Forestry, and Natural Resources, first introduced this proposal in December at the end of the previous Congress. President Joe Biden included a commitment to invest in restoration and resilience in his American Jobs Plan, highlighting Senator Bennet’s legislation as a model. U.S. Representatives Jason Crow (D-Colo.) and Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) will introduce companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives. U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is also co-sponsor of the bill.
“Forests, rangeland, and watersheds are essential infrastructure that sustain our economy in Colorado. For too long, Congress has failed to meaningfully invest in our western lands, undermining our economy and way of life,”said Senator Bennet. “The Outdoor Restoration Partnership Act changes that –– investing in the West by creating good-paying jobs to improve forest health, restore watersheds, enhance wildlife habitat, and expand access to the outdoors. I’m pleased President Biden recognized the importance of restoring America’s forests by including this proposal in his American Jobs Plan. This legislation was written with – and inspired by – Coloradans, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to make it a reality.”
Forests and watersheds are the natural infrastructure that sustains our economy in the West. Catastrophic wildfires and prolonged drought are becoming the norm, yet Congress has failed to fully invest in our Western lands, undermining our economy and way of life. As a result, local governments are often left to foot the bill for conservation, restoration, and wildfire mitigation.
Upgrading our natural infrastructure is an opportunity to build climate resilience and create or sustain millions of good-paying jobs.
The bill text is available HERE. A one-pager on the bill and a list of supporting organizations is available HERE. A section-by-section summary of the bill is available HERE.
The Outdoor Restoration Partnership Act is supported by National Wildlife Federation, National Association of State Foresters, The Nature Conservancy, National Wild Turkey Federation, American Forests, National Audubon Society, Family Farm Alliance, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Western Landowners Alliance, Western Resource Advocates, Trout Unlimited, and Conservation Legacy.