Regional and National State Forester Association Policy Partnership Benefits CWSF Members
CWSF partners with our regional state forestry association colleagues – the Northeastern Area Association of State Foresters (NAASF) and the Southern Group of State Foresters (SGSF) – as well as the National Association of State Foresters (NASF) on priority policy and legislative items of common interest to state foresters nationwide. This partnership is a member benefit for our shared members and leverages expertise and resources from other regions as well as NASF to benefit CWSF members.
Where priority issues coincide and there is alignment across our memberships, the regional and national policy staff members act as a team to advance policy goals and maximize our collective effectiveness. This coordination fosters strong lines of communication among staff and state foresters across the country and enables policy staff to stay apprised of the policy and legislative priorities of our sister regional and national state forestry associations.
In addition, the NASF Executive Committee and the NASF Legislative Committee are standing committees of NASF comprised of state foresters representing each of the three regional associations. The Legislative Committee is tasked with coordinating the legislative and policy efforts on behalf of all 59 state and territorial foresters. The committee monitors the United States Congress, federal courts, and federal agencies to identify opportunities to move the policy agenda forward. NASF and regional state forestry policy staff provides staff assistance to this committee. The Legislative Committee advises the Executive Committee, which approves positions and actions that benefit all state and territorial foresters.
State Foresters Support Wildland Fire Funding and Forest Management Solutions
CWSF continues to support the need for a permanent solution by Congress for wildland fire suppression funding at the USDA Forest Service (Forest Service) and the Department of the Interior. CWSF coordinates our policy and legislative efforts with NASF, NAASF and SGSF, recognizing that this issue is a priority for state foresters nationwide. State foresters support the passage of a new wildland fire funding framework and much-needed forest management reforms, either separately or in tandem.
A bipartisan compromise proposal was considered in late 2015 for inclusion in the fiscal year 2016 spending package. The compromise addressed wildfire funding and forest management challenges. The proposal ultimately failed to be included in the 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 114-113) but in recognition of the problem, Congress supplied the Forest Service with a significant boost in funding for fire suppression activities. The increased funding is meant to minimize the potential need for any fire transfers during the 2016 fire season while Congress continues work to craft a comprehensive, permanent solution.
Senate leadership of the Energy and Natural Resources, Agriculture and Budget Committees, with overlapping jurisdiction over fire suppression funding and forest management, have pledged to work together in 2016 to craft a legislative solution. Their collective efforts are underway. State Foresters appreciate their support and leadership to enact a permanent solution this year and stand ready to assist.
CWSF Article in SAF Western Forester
CWSF recently contributed to a publication produced by the Society of American Foresters (SAF). The SAF publication, titled Western Forester, is published by the Oregon, Washington State, Inland Empire and Alaska societies of SAF. The April/May issue is focused on the political implications of the 2016 elections and can be viewed here.