House panel approves extra wildfire money

Mark Dressler milbop at hotmail.com
Fri Jul 12 16:42:56 EST 2002


For FY 2002, $395 million out of the $2 billion National fire plan was
appropriated of on the ground fuel reduction projects. At $250-450 per
acre for mechanical treatment, some land managers thought they could
hire a contractor to revove everything 9" DBH and less so they could
at least break even.

Problem is tha tthe public sees this as an excuse to log. I predict
that with all of the monied intersts behind this, congress will soon
change the laws to allow logging-to-save-the-forest projects to
proceed with minimal public nuciances.
________________________________________________

 For Immediate Release:                                  Contact:
Marnie Funk/Tracey Shifflett
July 10, 2002                                                      
202-226-9019

USDA Reports Nearly Half of 2002 Projects to Reduce Wildfire Risks
have been Blocked by Appeals - Usually by Environmentalists

Forest Subcommittee Holds Hearing Tomorrow on New Statistics

Washington, D.C. - The Forest and Forest Health Subcommittee will hold
an oversight hearing tomorrow on "Wildfire on the National Forest: An
update on the 2002 Wildland Fire Season" at 10 a.m. in 1334 Longworth
HOB.

USDA reports that delays caused by the appeals have significantly
slowed efforts to pull tinder-dry overgrowth out of federal forests.
These delays have contributed to the West's worst fire year on record.
To date, with nearly half of the 2002 fire season left, more than 3
million acres have been scorched by wildfire.

The Departments of Interior and Agriculture have spent nearly $400
million on fire suppression - virtually all the funds appropriated for
the activity.

A USDA internal report outlining reasons for delays in reducing fire
hazards will be discussed at tomorrow's hearing. In Fiscal year 2002,
the USDA proposed cutting down excess small trees that could fuel
forest fires in 326 instances across the nation. Nearly half - 155 -
of those projects have been delayed by administrative appeals. A score
of these cases ended up in court.

In Arizona, a state plagued with wildfires, 75 percent of the fuel
load reduction plans were appealed. In Montana, another state buffeted
this summer by fierce fire, 100 percent of the fuel-reduction plans
were appealed.

Chairman Scott McInnis: 

"For those who have spent the last several weeks down playing the
impact of appeals and litigation on forest management, this report is
a bucket of cold water in the face. These numbers are a scathing
indictment of the process that governs management of the nation's
forests, and a harsh reminder of just how relentlessly ideological
some environmental litigants have become.  The American people can
expect a decades long cycle of destructive wildfires if this crusade
against forest management continues.

"If ever there were a case for reforming the arcane and litigious way
in which we manage our forests, this emphatically is it."



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