Department Of Interior

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Office of the Secretary
Contact: John Wright
For Immediate Release: Feb. 7, 2004

Secretary Norton Announces Implementation of Hungry Valley Wildfire Project: Touts President's FY 2005 Budget Request


RENO-Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton announced today that the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony in Hungry Valley will be the site of a hazardous fuels treatment project designed to help reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires. The project will minimize the potential for wildfires and control it from spreading to other areas.

"This hazardous fuels treatment project will enhance fire suppression capabilities and protect community lands from wildfires that burn hot and out of control," Norton said. "Our goal is to improve protection of our land and property from wildfires and make them safer."

The Hungry Valley Fuels Treatment Project was jointly developed in 2003 by the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management and the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, using a collaborative process and a streamlined National Environmental Policy Act review that included categorical exclusion for hazardous fuels treatment.

The project is planned on approximately 56 acres to provide a safe buffer between developed areas in the community and BLM managed public lands. Juniper trees and brush will be treated in two treatment areas. The project will be completed in the spring.

Secretary Norton also announced that President Bush is including $760 million in the FY 2005 budget to continue implementation of his Healthy Forests Initiative. The request funds activities that advance the goals of the Healthy Forests Initiative, including activities authorized under the Healthy Forests Restoration Act that will result in improved forest and rangeland management, healthier landscapes and reduced risk of catastrophic wildfires.

"The increase represents the president's determination and strong commitment to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfires and to restore the health of our nation's forests and rangelands," Norton said. "This funding level, coupled with collaboration with local communities and other land-management tools provided under the president's Healthy Forests Initiative will enhance the ability of field managers to make decisions more effectively and more quickly."

The budget proposal, about a $500 million increase from FY 2000, takes an integrated approach to reducing hazardous fuels and restoring forest and rangeland health. The fuels reduction program will be integrated with programs that support wildlife habitat improvements, watershed enhancements, vegetation management, stewardship timber harvest and forest health research to achieve more comprehensive and effective results on the ground.

The Healthy Forests Initiative budget will reduce hazardous fuel loads and insect infestation on nearly 4 million acres, up from 1.2 million in FY 2000. It funds hazardous fuels reduction at more than $476 million--quadrupling 2000 levels. From 2001-2003, the Forest Service and Interior agencies treated a total of 7 million acres. In 2004, the agencies intend to treat an additional 3.7 million acres.

President Bush introduced his Healthy Forests Initiative in August 2002 during the height of one of the most destructive wildfire seasons in 50 years. The president signed the Healthy Forests Restoration Act on Dec. 3, 2003. The act contains key elements of his Healthy Forests Initiative that streamline administrative procedures and appeals and provide federal courts direction when reviewing fuel reduction or forest health projects.



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