Heinrich Questions Forest Service Chief Tidwell on Wildfire Prevention, Boosting Outdoor Recreation in National Forests

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 8, 2016) - During a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing today on the U.S. Forest Service's fiscal year 2017 budget request, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) called for extending Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Projects (CFLRP) in New Mexico, which are designed to lower the risks of catastrophic wildfires and provide significant ecological and economic benefits. Senator Heinrich also questioned committee witness U.S. Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell about completing a mountain bike trail system in the Cibola National Forest and streamlining recreational permits to boost access to national forests.

During the hearing, Senator Heinrich advocated for extending CFLRP to continue the successful work in New Mexico. CFLRP encourages the collaborative, science-based ecosystem restoration of priority forest landscapes, which lowers the risk of wildfires and costs to our communities, and benefits local mills. Chief Tidwell committed to work with Senator Heinrich in order to extend the program.

Senator Heinrich also urged the U.S. Forest Service to complete its Environmental Assessment (EA) of the Zuni Mountain Trail Project in the Mt. Taylor Ranger District in order to build out a mountain bike trail system in the Cibola National Forest. Senator Heinrich stressed that the Zuni Mountain Trails Partnership has worked with the local community for years to design a mountain bike trail system and underscored that outdoor recreation is increasingly driving economic development in western New Mexico. Senator Heinrich pressed Chief Tidwell to complete the environmental assessment by the spring.

Later in the hearing, Senator Heinrich also called for the U.S. Forest Service to address the challenges of applying for recreational permits on national forests. Senator Heinrich highlighted that streamlining the process will make it easier for outfitter guides, non-profits, and youth organizations such as the YMCA to take people out to enjoy our public lands.

Full archive of today's hearing is located here