Chairman Newhouse Introduces Legislation to Improve Forest Health and Management

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Chairman Dan Newhouse (WA-04) and Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52) introduced the bicameral Root and Stem Project Reauthorization Act alongside Senators Steve Daines (MT) and Dianne Feinstein (CA). This legislation provides the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management with a clear statutory tool to treat forests more efficiently and empower collaborative processes through “Root & Stem” projects.

“Collaborative projects have extraordinary benefits to both local economies and the environment,” said Chairman Newhouse. “The Root and Stem Act will be helpful in accelerating these forest management projects to restore federal forests that have suffered from years of poor—or nonexistent—management. I am proud to re-introduce this crucial piece of legislation alongside Rep. Peters and Senators Daines and Feinstein and look forward to restoring healthy forests through efficient and collaborative management.”

“Collaboration between the federal government and Montanans is key when it comes to common sense forest management,” said Senator Daines. “We should be encouraging public-private partnerships that will find creative and effective solutions to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires, promote healthy forests and protect local communities. Season after season, Montana is facing devastating wildfires. It’s past time we restore active forest management practices.”

“The Root & Stem Act will accelerate forest management projects that are smart and rooted in science to protect our ecosystems and climate,” said Rep. Peters. “As we combat the increasing risks of wildfires and drought due to climate change, bipartisan action to protect our forests and public lands will be more critical than ever. I thank Chairman Newhouse for his partnership on this legislation.”

“I’m pleased to join Senator Daines on his Root and Stem Project Authorization Act. This bill would codify into law the authority of the Forest Service and Interior Department to allow qualified, vetted contractors to prepare environmental analyses for forest management projects,” said Senator Feinstein. “This practice has long been permitted under executive branch regulations, and codifying it will allow critical wildfire mitigation work to move forward on schedule.”

By authorizing the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to propose and enter collaborative stewardship contracts and agreements, this legislation will allow the agencies to accomplish more hazardous fuels reduction and empower the agencies to engage with state, local, and tribal partners to ensure forest management projects compliment ongoing conservation efforts, benefit communities, and protect local ecosystems.

Statements of Support:

“Only with the help of states and the private sector can we tackle the wildfire crisis and the 80 million acre forest-restoration backlog. Building on the success of the Colville National Forest’s “A to Z” project, the Root and Stem Project Authorization Act of 2023 proposes to harness the power of public-private collaboration by empowering states and private parties to design forest restoration projects, to fund environmental analysis, and to implement projects. The bill also addresses the serious threat of litigation to responsible forest management.”—Jonathan Wood, PERC Vice President of Law and Policy

“The Root & Stem Act of 2023 is an innovative and bipartisan solution for improving the health and resiliency of our federally owned forests- more quickly and at less cost to taxpayers. This legislation builds upon a successful and collaborative partnership on the Colville National Forest that has accelerated needed treatments to protect communities, reduce severe fire risks, and enhance wildlife habitat, while providing timber for American-made wood products.  It is time for Congress to codify this approach to promote more investment in science-based public land management, and to give forest collaboratives across the country further incentive to get more work done on the ground.” —Travis Joseph, President and CEO, American Forest Resources Council

“The Root and Stem Act encourages collaboration between public and private stakeholders, which is key to reaching the scale and pace necessary to address the state of emergency that exists within our nation’s forests and public lands.”—Becky Humphries, CEO, National Wild Turkey Federation 

Click here for bill text.


The Root & Stem Act will:

  • Authorize the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to propose and enter into stewardship contracts and agreements prior to the completion of environmental review
  • Allow for the preparation of the environmental analysis to be included as a service item (i.e. paid for with timber receipts) in the stewardship contract or agreement, provided the environmental analysis would be completed by an independent third party and the agency retains final decision authority for both the environmental analysis and the project
  • Ensure Root & Stem projects are developed through a collaborative process.

The “Root and Stem Act” passed the U.S. Senate in December 2022.

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