Published since 1946
Forest Service Releases Restoration Update
A new U.S. Forest Service report, From Accelerating Restoration to Creating and Maintaining Resilient Landscapes and Communities Across the Nation, provides an overview of the agency's restoration efforts on the lands it manages since 2011. The report is an update of progress on a 2012 priority to increase the pace of restoration on national forests. The agency documents that 4.6 million acres of restoration treatments were completed since 2011, an increase of nearly 9 percent (400,000 acres). The report notes that many of the restoration projects have been made possible through partnerships, including the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program, that have allowed the Forest Service to increase the pace and scope of efforts. The treatments reduced the potential future impacts of wildfire and produced 2.8 billion board feet of timber volume. However, the agency also counters that the progress was accomplished in the face of increasing budget challenges due to wildfire costs that siphon off restoration funding. With at least 65 million acres still in need of restoration, the report cautions that continued restoration progress may be a challenge because of the increasing portion of the budget that is necessary to fight wildland fires.
"The Forest Service has made tremendous progress in conducting restoration work to keep our forests healthy and resilient. However, because of the growing cost of fighting more frequent and dangerous wildfires, much of the work that supports healthy forests is being starved," Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack noted in a statement. "The magnitude of the crisis demands that we cannot go another year without a solution to the Forest Service's broken fire budget. There is broad agreement that we need to fix the way we pay for wildfires. We have provided Congress with a straightforward solution to enable us to do the work we need to do and now it is up to Congress to act.