Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) reintroduced bipartisan legislation that would allow the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to work with state foresters to complete projects that cross ownership boundaries.
"Forests in Wyoming and across the Intermountain West face serious threats, including forest fires and an unprecedented bark beetle epidemic. Extending Good Neighbor authority will make it easier for local, state and federal land managers to protect and manage our forests. This will ensure we have additional tools available for land managers to perform wildfire restoration, address bark beetles, and improve wildlife habitat, regardless of boundary lines," said Barrasso.
The "Good Neighbor Forestry Act" (S. 327) is co-sponsored by Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Mike Lee (R-UT), John Thune (R-SD) and Mark Udall (D-CO).
Currently, only Colorado and Utah benefit from Good Neighbor authority.
Barrasso's bill would apply the Good Neighbor authority (GNA) to other western states and provide the U.S. Forest Service and BLM with the ability to contract with State Foresters to complete forest, rangeland and watershed health projects. These projects can be used to address forest health threats such as bark beetles, reduce hazardous fuels, perform wildfire restoration work, and improve fish and wildlife habitat.
The implementation of GNA will increase the cooperation on the ground between local, state, and federal land management agencies by allowing them to work in a "cross-boundary' approach. It will allow the respective agencies to be better stewards of the natural resources they are charged to protect and manage, while simultaneously utilizing tax payers dollars more efficiently on the ground where they do the most good.
The "Good Neighbor Forestry Act" was initially introduced by Barrasso in the 111th Congress in May of 2009.