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Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY) spoke at a forum focused on Wildfires and Forest Management hosted by House Republicans on the Natural Resources Committee.

During the forum, Rep. Cheney introduced Sublette County Commissioner Joel Bousman, and spoke about the importance of active forest management in the role of effective carbon sequestration. See below for her introduction of Commissioner Bousman and the questions that she asked of him:

Cheney Introduces Sublette County Commissioner Joel Bousman at Natural Resources Wildfire Forum

REP. LIZ CHENEY: Thank you very much, Ranking Member Westerman, and thank you for holding this tremendous forum. It’s my real honor to be able to introduce a dear friend and someone who knows these issues incredibly well with a lot of firsthand experience, and that’s Joel Bousman. Joel is speaking today in his capacity as Chairman of the National Association of Counties’ Public Lands Steering Committee. He is a fourth-generation rancher from Boulder, Wyoming, and he has been involved in just about every capacity you could imagine for our state over many years. He is currently one of our County Commissioners from Sublette County, and he’s the Chairman for the Wyoming County Commissioners Association of our Agriculture, Water, State and Public Lands Committee. Joel is also the Second Vice President of the Western Interstate Region of the National Association of Counties. So, I’m really pleased that Joel is able to be with us today and offer some perspective on this crucially important issue. So, with that I will turn things over to Joel.

Rep. Cheney Emphasizes Importance Of Effective Forest Management At Natural Resources Forum

REP. LIZ CHENEY: Thank you very much, Ranking Member Westerman, and, again, thank you for this forum and for the opportunity to talk about these issues that matter so much. You all have touched on the fact that we hear so much in terms of the cause of these fires that we’re seeing across our Western states, and so much that we’re hearing about them that, frankly, isn’t accurate. I think effective forest management and the extent to which we really can help to convey that message, which you all on the committee are doing so well, convey the damage that’s done when we don’t have effective forest management — I think it’s just a hugely important service. 

I wanted to ask Joel Bousman — you know, you mentioned, Joel, carbon sequestration in your testimony and the fact that, you know, it’s only a healthy root system that effectively sequesters carbon. Can you talk about the extent to which, you know, we see the Biden Administration spend a lot of time talking about climate issues, but they never really seem to tie that to effective forest management, they never seem to make that connection. So, I wonder if you could talk a little bit more about a sequestration system that could be implemented based on effective forest management — how we could be advocating for tools that might actually make a difference to some of the issues that the Biden Administration is raising without actually raising real solutions?

COMMISSIONER JOEL BOUSMAN: Thank you, Congressman Cheney for that question. One of the, I guess you would call it from my perspective as a County Commissioner, a frustration is the discussion in the “America the Beautiful Initiative” by this Administration about doing things that might potentially — they put a lot of emphasis on climate change, and it’s ironic that one way that we in the Western states can effectively address carbon emissions, regardless of the attitude about how much impact it has on climate change, but we know it’s a benefit to sequester carbon rather than having it escape into the atmosphere. We have the data, and it’s been talked about of the advantage of an active managed resilient forest community’s ability to sequester significantly more carbon as opposed to a dead and dying forest with insect-killed trees that are actually emitting volatile organic carbon compounds, VOC’s — we know that happens. I think we’re missing a huge opportunity here in active forest management to tie these two things together with this Administration and say, “Hey we have a solution. We need more resources, we need more capacity in the agency, we need to get people around the table in our county to identify the product available, the number of board feet that’s available for a period of twenty years, for example.” To entice private industry, we need more research from the National Forest Products Lab to come in and tell us, “Here’s what you could do with this product,” all with the goal of  — one of the goals, in addition to improving multiple use and wildlife habitat and all the things that we’ve been talking about all day long, but an additional goal of sequestering carbon as by doing things we need to do anyway. I would look forward, for example, to a potential pilot project in western Wyoming, in which, we could even call it ‘Richard Teton Carbon Sequestration Pilot Project’ to put all these things together, things that we need to be doing anyway that we’ve all talked about — 

REP. CHENEY: Yeah —

COMMISSIONER BOUSMAN: — to actually be more effective at sequestering carbon. I think that’s a win-win for all of us.

REP. CHENEY: Well, I think that’s a really important point. Something, obviously, I know Ranking Member Westerman’s been very focused on these issues and things like this with the ‘Trillion Trees Initiative,’ but I love the idea of being able to do a pilot project and looking for ways that we can propose that and maybe get that funded, get some support for that. But as your point being that these are things we ought to be doing anyway to help to manage our forests in a healthy way and we ought to focus in doing it in a way that gets some credit for it and demonstrates the reality of the kinds of programs we need. So, I want to thank you very much for your concepts, your ideas, for your service, and thanks again to the committee and to Ranking Member Westerman for giving me the opportunity to join you today.

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