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Press Release



Secretary Salazar Announces $15 Million Investment in Hazardous Fuel Reduction Projects, Biomass Production on Public Lands



05/21/2009

 Contact: Frank Quimby (202) 208-6416

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today that the Department would invest $15 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to fund 55 projects that will reduce hazardous fuels on thousands of acres of federal land to protect communities at risk from wildland fires, support local economies and rehabilitate ecosystems damaged by wildfire. The funding is part of $3 billion Interior is investing in the nation’s economy under President Obama’s recovery plan.

“This investment will create jobs in rural communities in 12 states, boost the Department’s hazardous fuels reduction activities and generate biomass for use in wood products or power generation,” Secretary Salazar said. “We will create local jobs on both the front and back ends of this initiative, while reducing threats to homes, businesses and schools and restoring healthy landscapes. Where possible, we will invite young adults to join these efforts to help develop a new generation of natural resource stewards.”

A rigorous merit-based process was used to identify projects from California to Montana to Wisconsin and Oklahoma that met the criteria put forth in the Recovery Act: namely, that a project addresses the Department’s highest priority mission needs; generates the largest number of jobs in the shortest period of time; and creates lasting value for the American public.

All the hazardous fuels reduction projects are long-standing priorities of the Department’s Wildland Fire Management program that:

  • Increase firefighter and public safety
  • Reduce threats to homes, businesses, schools, other valuable infrastructure
    and cultural and natural resources
  • Conserve municipal watersheds
  • Help preserve jobs dependent on natural resources
  • Uphold environmental quality
  • Enhance effective use of Federal, State, Tribal, and local skills and resources
  • Lower the threat of pollution from particulates
  • Reduce smoke impacts from wildfire

The final selection criteria ensured project planning and environmental compliance work was complete or substantially complete and that projects have the potential to provide additional economic benefits to support local or regional employment through post-treatment use of biomass in wood products or power generation.

Under the Department’s Wildland Fire Management program, fuels reduction treatments thin overgrown woodlands, reduce accumulated deadwood and dense underbrush to lessen the potential for intense wildland fire and post-fire damage, and limit the proliferation and spread of invasive species and diseases.

Secretary Salazar has pledged unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability in implementing the Department’s economic recovery projects. The public can follow the progress of each project on the recovery web site and at www.interior.gov/recovery. The website includes an interactive map that enables the public also to follow where and how the department’s recovery dollars are being spent.

Secretary Salazar also has appointed a Senior Advisor for Economic Recovery, Chris Henderson, and an Interior Economic Recovery Task Force. Henderson and the Task Force will work closely with the Department of the Interior’s Inspector General to ensure that the recovery program is meeting the high standards for accountability, responsibility, and transparency that President Obama has set.

A list of the projects by state is online at http://recovery.doi.gov/press/office-of-wildland-fire/.