Gluesenkamp Perez’s Bipartisan Bill to Manage Forests, Reduce Wildfire Risk Unanimously Passes Committee

May 11, 2023
Press

Rep. Gluesenkamp Perez speaks to the House Agriculture Committee about her legislation.

Today, Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-WA-03)’s bipartisan Treating Tribes and Counties as Good Neighbors Act unanimously passed the House Agriculture Committee and now heads to the House floor for consideration.

The Treating Tribes and Counties as Good Neighbors Act fully extends eligibility for the Good Neighbor Authority (GNA) program for federal forest restoration and management projects to Tribes and counties and increases opportunities for cross-boundary restoration. Rep. Gluesenkamp Perez introduced the legislation with Rep. Russ Fulcher (R-ID-01) and Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) in March.

“I’m glad that my House Agriculture Committee colleagues came together to send this bill to the House floor to build on the success of the Good Neighbor Authority,” said Rep. Gluesenkamp Perez. “We’ve got to keep the woods healthy and productive for future generations. This bill gives back critical flexibility under the Good Neighbor Authority to our counties and Tribes who understand that wildfire and natural disaster do not discriminate between Federal and non-Federal lands.”

The Treating Tribes and Counties as Good Neighbors Act has received support from Governor of Idaho Brad Little, National Association of Counties, Intertribal Timber Council, Idaho Forest Group, Boone and Crockett Club, Mule Deer Foundation, National Association of State Foresters, National Congress of American Indians, Society of American Foresters, and the American Forest Foundation.

Background:

The Good Neighbor Authority (GNA) program has allowed the U.S. Forest Service to partner with states on federal forest restoration and management projects to improve wildlife habitats, enhance watersheds, and reduce wildfire risks. In the 2018 Farm Bill, Congress amended GNA to make Tribes and counties eligible to enter into Good Neighbor Agreements. However, Tribes and counties were not afforded the same authority as states to retain GNA project receipts to reinvest in conservation, reducing a significant incentive to partner on forest management projects.

Additionally, the 2018 Farm Bill removed the ability for restoration services to take place off federal lands. This means adjacent state, tribal, and county that is essential to the health and productivity of National Forests can no longer be restored as comprehensive landscapes.

The Treating Tribes and Counties as Good Neighbors Act provides Tribes and counties with the ability to reinvest receipts in authorized restoration and enables all GNA partners to perform restoration not just on federal lands, but also on lands approved under the project’s Good Neighbor Agreement. The Good Neighbor Authority program is expected to be reauthorized in the upcoming 2023 Farm Bill.

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