Washington, D.C. – On Thursday, Oct. 31, National Forest System Deputy Chief Chris French testified on behalf of the USDA Forest Service before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in a hearing on his views regarding the Recreation Not Red Tape Act, the Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation Act, or “SOAR Act,” and the Ski Area Fee Retention Act.
Deputy Chief French reiterated the agency’s deep commitment to connecting all Americans to the outdoors while reiterating the important role played by outfitters and guides, resorts, nonprofit organizations and others as partners in connecting people to recreation opportunities on national forests and grasslands.
Outdoor recreation attracts people to visit, live and work in gateway and rural communities and supports the health, well-being and economic vitality of those communities. Recreation on National Forest System lands contributes more than $11 billion to America’s gross domestic product and supports more than 148,000 full and part-time jobs, the vast majority of which are in gateway and rural communities.
With certain exceptions, Deputy Chief French expressed the Forest Service’s support of the goals contained in the three resolutions, which aim to improve recreational access to National Forest System lands. He also expressed his commitment to working with the bills’ sponsors to effect necessary changes to achieve their goals. The Forest Service comments on these bills pertain to their effect on the Forest Service, including management of National Forest System lands. USDA defers to the Department of Interior on the effects of these bills on the federal lands under their jurisdiction.
The department appreciates the committee’s interest in these important topics. It strongly supports efforts to foster recreational use of federal lands and looks forward to working with the bill sponsors and the committee to promote these important goals.
Below, you can view Deputy Chief French’s recent testimony in front of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Below, you can view a part one of Deputy Chief Chris French' testimony on front of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee to discuss our deferred maintenance needs. Click ahead for the full recording from this Senate hearing.