U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue (pictured above, left of podium) announced an effort on Thursday in Washington, D.C., to reimagine agency land management in closer partnership with states to better cope with wildfires.
Secretary Perdue, who was joined by four Senators and Western Governors’ Association (WGA) Executive Director Jim Ogsbury, announced the rollout of the agency's “Shared Stewardship Across Landscapes” initiative at the U.S. Capitol.
The new approach will build on existing Forest Service relationships with states, tribes and local communities to set priorities and co-manage risks, utilize new tools, and improve processes. Interim USFS Chief Vicki Christiansen introduced Secretary Perdue.
“On my trip out west this week, I saw the devastation that these unprecedented wildfires are having on our neighbors, friends and families” said Secretary Perdue. “We commit to work more closely with the states to reduce the frequency and severity of wildfires. We commit to strengthening the stewardship of public and private lands."
“Today’s announcement is consistent with the Governors’ forest management priorities and their imperative to improve the state-federal relationship,” Ogsbury said in his remarks. “As with all good concepts, however, the devil is in the details. WGA pledges to roll up its sleeves and work with the Department to help develop those details and operationalize a shared stewardship paradigm.” Download the remarks.
Senators Lisa Murkowski, Maria Cantwell, Steve Daines and Ron Wyden also delivered remarks, as did National Association of State Foresters President George Geissler.