Forest Service chief takes heat on wildfire prevention

By Marc Heller | 05/17/2024 06:41 AM EDT

Chief Randy Moore pushed back on complaints the agency isn’t moving faster on reducing wildfire threats — and took a scolding from Sen. John Barrasso.

Randy Moore.

Forest Service Chief Randy Moore on Capitol Hill on Thursday. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

Forest Service Chief Randy Moore faced withering criticism from a top Senate Republican on Thursday after suggesting his agency shouldn’t necessarily focus its wildfire prevention efforts at treating more acres.

At an Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, ranking member John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) ripped Moore for downplaying the significance of acreage goals.

“We haven’t been doing a very good job of protecting against wildfire.” Barrasso said. “To me this seems a complete lack of urgency by your department with all of this.”


Moore, a career Forest Service employee who was a regional forester in the West before becoming chief in 2021, was responding to concerns from Barrasso and others that the agency’s removal of wildfire fuel hasn’t increased at the pace lawmakers envisioned when passing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in 2021 and the Inflation Reduction Act a year later.