Varner provides Senate testimony to help shape wildfire policy

Mar 10, 2023

On March 8, 2023, Morgan Varner, Tall Timbers’ Director of Research and Senior Scientist, testified as an expert witness before the United States Senate, Committee on the Budget.

Dr. Varner was invited to the “A Burning Issue: The Economic Costs of Wildfires” hearing by Ranking Member Chuck Grassley of Iowa. During the hearing, the Senator clarified that it was important to him that someone with science and fire management experience contribute to the discussion.

Varner provided written testimony before the hearing and fielded various questions regarding the reasons for the increased severity of recent wildfires. While testimony regarding the impacts of an escaped prescribed fire in New Mexico last year was provided, the tone of the hearing was overwhelmingly positive regarding the need for more prescribed fire.

The opportunity to testify at the Senate hearing results from a determined effort by Tall Timbers to reassert leadership in national fire policy through panels, task forces, and Congress. This work has grown since adopting our 2016-2026 Strategic Plan, which established a goal to expand, improve, and protect the use of prescribed fire in our region and beyond by informing the fire policy environment —among five other tactics.

To support and focus our policy education efforts in Washington, Tall Timbers has retained the services of the Brumidi Group, including founders Charles Cooper and Madeline Wade. Charles and Madeline are critical in helping Tall Timbers efficiently navigate the complex policy ecosystem in Washington, DC.

We look forward to continuing to be a trusted voice for policymakers formulating science-based, empirically-sound fire policies at the local, state, and national scales.

About the Author
Brian Wiebler
The Tall Timbers Communications Director is always looking for an excuse to be outdoors. Birds, bikes, boats, boots... all good things for Brian. Originally from Iowa, he grew up in a family with a strong hunting and conservation ethic. This led to a career that has spanned from California to Florida with positions as a wildlife biologist, urban forester, and environmental planner, before landing "home" with Tall Timbers in 2016.
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