WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) participated in a Senate Energy and Natural Resources hearing that examined the role of forest management and forest products in sequestering and storing carbon and in promoting climate resiliency.
In the hearing, Senator Heinrich pointed out that forest treatment costs can vary widely by forest type and location, and that funding that treatment is a key barrier to more forest restoration by federal and state agencies.
Senator Heinrich also noted the challenges to scaling production and transportation of value-added wood products like biochar from far apart locations. Biochar has enormous potential to store carbon and increase productivity when added to soils. It can also be used to remediate contaminated mines and other hazardous sites.
Senator Heinrich also pointed out the role that prescribed fire must play in restoring forests, particularly forest ecosystems that have evolved to need fire, such as ponderosa pine forests in New Mexico. Executive Director of the Intermountain Forest Association, Ben Wudtke, agreed with Senator Heinrich, saying that “Prescribed fire plays a critical role in forest management. It should be implemented on more acres. I think federal agencies should be looking at prescribed fire as a tool in a lot of places.”
Senator Heinrich further pointed out that maintaining healthy, resilient forests through prescribed fire combined with hazardous fuels treatments can be dramatically cheaper compared to just mechanical thinning.
Find the full list of witnesses and a video of today’s hearing by clicking here.
Read Senator Heinrich’s op-ed featured in The Hill, “We need to fight forest fires when they aren't burning,” by clicking here.