Department Of Interior
DOI: John Wright, 202-208-6416
|For Immediate Release: Aug 10, 2004||
USDA: Julie Quick, 202-720-4623
Agency Officials Announce Record Fuels Reduction Expected in 2004, Second Anniversary of Healthy Forests Initiative
Administration Doubles Fuels Reduction and Treats More Acres
WASHINGTON-Mark Rey, Under Secretary of the U.S. Department Agriculture for Natural Resources and the Environment, and Chairman of the Wildland Fire Leadership Council, along with P. Lynn Scarlett, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Policy, Management and Budget, and past Chair of the Wildland Fire Leadership Council today announced the Bush Administration is on track to set a record in fuels reduction projects in 2004, the second anniversary of President Bush's Healthy Forests Initiative. A new report, Achieving Healthy Forests and Rangelands: National Fire Plan Performance Update, released by the Wildland Fire Leadership Council (WFLC) at its quarterly meeting, outlines accomplishments in the treatment of hazardous fuels and protection of the wildland-urban interface from catastrophic wildfires.
"The Healthy Forests Initiative calls for close coordination with state and local communities, particularly those communities that are in the wildland-urban interface," Rey said. "With an expectation of record fuels reduction, we are seeing the benefits of that coordination as we work with our partners to restore the health of our forests, protect wildlife habitat and reduce the risk of catastrophic fires to communities."
President Bush's Healthy Forests Initiative (HFI) introduced August 22, 2002 provides the tools to more effectively reduce wildfire risks and restore forest health. They include administrative reforms to streamline project decisions and the bipartisan Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA), the central legislative component to implement HFI, that the President signed into law December 3, 2003.
"We have embarked on an aggressive wildfire management program to reduce hazardous fuels that have built up in our nation's forests and rangelands," Scarlett said. "We now have the tools needed to actively manage our public lands and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires, while protecting property and restoring the health of our forests and rangelands."
The WFLC report details the progress made in wildland fire management since the Bush Administration took office and describe how federal agencies using HFI and HFRA are reducing the risks of catastrophic wildland fire.
The report shows that since
2001, federal agencies treated 10 million acres nationwide, an amount
equal to work accomplished over the previous eight years. In Fiscal
Year 2004 alone, hazardous fuels have been removed from 2.6 million
acres to date, or 97 percent of the interagency target, with nearly
two months remaining in the fiscal year. About 1.6 million acres have
been removed from the wildland-urban interface (WUI) to date-more than
185,000 acres (113 percent) greater than the target. More WUI acres
will be treated in 2004 than ever before. In the last 4 years, approximately
5 million acres have been treated in the wildland urban interface.
The WFLC was established in April 2002, to ensure policy coordination, accountability and effective implementation of the National Fire Plan and the Federal Wildland Fire Management Policy. The Council is composed of the directors of all the federal land management agencies. It also includes representatives from the National Governors Association, the Intertribal Timber Council, FEMA, the National Association of State Foresters and the National Association of Counties. The Council meets quarterly.
Note to Editors: A copy of the report "Achieving Healthy Forests and Rangelands: National Fire Plan Performance Update," can be obtained at the website for the National Fire Plan, www.fireplan.gov, as well as www.doi.gov .
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