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Heinrich: Reduce Wildfire Risk With Effective Programs That Promote Healthy Forests

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, cosponsored the Stewardship End Result Contracting Improvement Act to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires and make it easier for federal land managers and businesses to partner on long-term, large-scale forest treatment.

Senator Heinrich has been a leading advocate for wildfire funding reform and improvements to catastrophic wildfire prevention programs in New Mexico, including hazardous fuel reduction, stewardship contracting, and watershed restoration.

"Stewardship contracting is one of the most versatile and powerful tools we have to achieve healthier and more fire-resistant forests," said Senator Heinrich. “It is critical that we maintain and improve these tools to best restore New Mexico’s forests and protect our communities. Forests in New Mexico provide us with drinking water, space for traditional activities like hunting and fishing, and boost our outdoor recreation economy. Without necessary resources devoted to wildfire suppression and forest restoration programs, many communities in New Mexico will continue to face imminent threats of destructive fires each year.”

The bipartisan legislation, introduced by U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), would improve the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)’s stewardship contracting authority, which is a critical land management tool that helps to proactively reduce the risk of wildfires, restore watersheds, and promote forest health.

The bill would allow agencies to set aside cancellation-ceiling funds in stages that are economically or programmatically viable. This would facilitate larger, long-term partnerships through stewardship contracts, which allow cost-effective partnerships for reducing wildfire threats.

Full text of the bill is available here.