Department Of Interior

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Office of the Secretary
Heidi Valetkevitch, USDA (202) 720-6767
For Immediate Release: Jan. 28, 2004
Mark Pfeifle, DOI (202) 208-6416

Bush Administration Proposes Increased Funding to Maintain and Restore Forest and Rangeland Health

Projects Would Reduce Wildfire Threat in FY 2005


WASHINGTON, Jan. 28, 2004 - Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman and Interior Secretary Gale Norton today 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.

"With the budget increase, the federal land management agencies will be able to treat more acres more quickly - bringing benefits to our forests and restoring critical wildlife habitat," said Veneman. "It is critical that we work seamlessly across all forest management disciplines to make our forests healthier, our communities safer and our wildfire seasons less destructive. This requires more effectively aligning all of our programs and budget resources to more efficiently manage investments and maximize accomplishments."

"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 four million acres, up from 1.2 million in FY 2000. It funds hazardous fuels reduction at more than $476 million--quadruple 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, which 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. Additional information is available at and

Fact Sheet: Progress Reported on Implementing President's Bush Healthy Forest Initiative


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