Summer is just beginning, but wildfires are already raging in the West. Large and destructive wildfires are becoming more common, with new records set almost every year. Although several factors contribute to this trend, a significant one is the declining health of our nation’s forests. The U.S. Forest Service, which manages 193 million acres of land, reports a backlog of 80 million acres in need of restoration and 63 million acres facing high or very high risk of wildfire.
While improving forest health and mitigating wildfire risk will require long-term policy changes, forest restoration projects offer a way to address these issues in the short term. By promoting landscapes with healthy forests and diverse forest types, restoration projects can reduce the risk of megafires and provide other conservation benefits.
Join us as we explore how reducing regulatory barriers, encouraging private partnerships, and opening markets for wood products can help restore our nation’s forests.
The Fix America’s Forests panel discussion will be held virtually on Tuesday, June 22 at 12:00 p.m. EDT with experts from PERC, Pacific Legal Foundation, Blue Forest Conservation, and the U.S. Forest Service.
- Holly Fretwell, PERC
Holly Fretwell is a research fellow at PERC, where for more than two decades she has focused her research on public lands policy, property rights, and markets. She is most recently the author of Fix America’s Forests: Reforms to Restore National Forests and Tackle the Wildfire Crisis
- Jonathan Wood, PERC / Pacific Legal Foundation
Jonathan Wood is a PERC research fellow and an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation, where he litigates environmental, property rights, and constitutional cases. He is most recently the author of Fix America’s Forests: Reforms to Restore National Forests and Tackle the Wildfire Crisis
- Phil Saksa, Blue Forest Conservation
Phil Saksa is co-founder & chief scientist at Blue Forest and has more than a decade of experience in ecosystem services and watershed management. Phil has a Ph.D. in environmental systems and was previously with the Sierra Nevada Research Institute at UC Merced, where he focused on water supply impacts from forest management, wildfire, and climate in California’s Sierra Nevada.
- Mac Cloyes, Blue Forest Conservation, former U.S. Forest Service
Mac Cloyes is the policy director at Blue Forest Conservation, where he leads conservation finance policy and advocacy work. Before joining Blue Forest he spent 10 years with the U.S. Forest Service working on budget and policy issues. Most recently he worked on a team developing conservation finance policy and led an effort to expand partnership capacity with the Enterprise Program.
- Chris French, Deputy Chief USDA
Chris French currently serves as Deputy Chief of the National Forest System for the USDA Forest Service, based in Washington D.C. In this role, Chris is responsible for policy, oversight, and direction for natural resource and public service delivery programs across 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands in 44 states and territories that make up the National Forest System. Prior to his current position, Chris served in a variety of leadership positions on ranger districts, national forests, and at the national headquarters.