Republicans hammer Forest Service on missed timber goals

By Marc Heller | 06/05/2024 06:22 AM EDT

At a House hearing, the agency’s chief pushed back on criticism that national forests are falling short on thinning trees to reduce wildfire threats.

Forest Service Chief Randy Moore testifies before a House panel.

Forest Service Chief Randy Moore on Tuesday. House Natural Resources Committee/YouTube

House Republicans on Tuesday challenged Forest Service Chief Randy Moore’s assertions that the agency is making progress in staving off destructive wildfires through timber harvests and forest thinning.

At a House Natural Resources Committee hearing on the agency’s fiscal 2025 budget request, Moore and panel Republicans couldn’t agree on which statistics to trust as proof of the Forest Service’s work to reduce potential wildfire fuel — and they resolved to meet separately to resolve the differences.

At issue is the pace of forest thinning, timber harvesting and other activities that reduce forest density. That type of work, which also includes prescribed fire, can greatly reduce the intensity of future fires, forest managers say, although some environmental groups say the benefit is overstated.


Moore told the Subcommittee on Federal Lands that timber harvesting has grown by as much as 30 percent in recent decades and that the Forest Service in the past year has reduced record amounts of hazardous fuels such as thick vegetation and dead or diseased trees.