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[ft-l] President's Bush's new forest policy for logging and forest fires


 FYI- President's Bush's new forest policy for logging and forest fires.
 Forests won't burn if you log them first.


 Healthy Forests: An Agenda for Wildfire Prevention and Stronger Communitie=
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 On August 22, 2002, President Bush announced a new initiative to prevent
 damage caused by catastrophic wildland fires. Speaking to a crowd in Centr=
 Point, Oregon, President Bush urged Congress to pass legislation to expedi=
 procedures for forest thinning and health projects.

 The 2002 fire season is already one of the worst in modern history, where
 more than 6 million acres burned, twice the 10-year annual average. Fire
 officials estimate that over 190 million acres are at risk to catastrophic
 fire due to severe drought conditions, a build-up of hazardous fuels, and
 inefficient regulatory processes.

 According to Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman, "The President's
 announcement is very timely in light of the fire season we are now
 experiencing. The solutions to protecting communities and forests are
 multi-faceted and will take time and extensive planning to implement."

 President Bush is directing Secretary Veneman, Interior Secretary Gail
 Norton and the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chairman James
 Connaughton to improve regulatory processes that impede forest health

 The improvements will include:

 =B7 Improving procedures for developing and implementing fuels treatment a=
 forest restoration projects in priority forests and rangelands, in
 collaboration with local governments.
 =B7 Reducing the number of overlapping environmental reviews by combining
 project analysis and establishing a process for concurrent project clearan=
 by federal agencies.
 =B7 Developing guidance for weighing the short-term risks of fuels treatme=
 and restoration projects against the long-term benefits.
 =B7 Developing consistent NEPA procedures for fuels treatment activities a=
 restoration activities, including developing a model Environmental
 Assessment for these types of projects.

 President Bush will work with Congress on legislation to further accomplis=
 more timely, efficient, and effective implementation of forest health
 projects. Such legislation should:

 =B7 Authorize agencies to enter long-term stewardship contracts with the
 private sector, non-profit organizations, and local communities. Stewardsh=
 contracts allow contractors to keep wood products in exchange for thinning
 trees and brush and removing dead wood. Long-term contracts provide
 contractors the incentive to invest in equipment and infrastructure to
 productively use materials from forest thinning, such as small-diameter
 logs, to make wood products or to produce energy.
 =B7 Expedite implementation of fuels reduction and forest restoration
 projects, particularly in those high priority areas.
 =B7 Ensure that judges consider long-term risks of harm to people, propert=
 and the environment in challenges based on short-term risks of forest heal=
 =B7 Remove a rider that imposed extraordinary procedural requirements on
 Forest Service appeals that are inconsistent with pre-existing requirement=
 of law.

 President Bush will work with Congress on legislation to supplement the U.
 S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U. S. Department of the Interior's
 (USDI) effort to fulfill the original promise of the 1994 Northwest Forest
 Plan by:

 =B7 Removing administrative obstacles and providing authority to allow tim=
 projects to proceed without delay when they are consistent with the
 Northwest Forest Plan.
 =B7 Renewing the commitment to a balanced conservation strategy in the Pac=
 Northwest that reflects the needs of both local communities and the
 environment. The Northwest Forest Plan represents a compromise to bring
 balanced, long-term forest management to federal forests in western
 Washington, western Oregon, and northern California. The purpose of the Pl=
 is to protect spotted owl habitat, the forests and ensure a dependable,
 sustainable timber harvest from federal land in the Pacific Northwest.

 Chief Bosworth has directed Tom Thompson, deputy chief for National Forest
 System lands to oversee an agency team charged with making more efficient
 and effective natural resource decisions; and, engaging local and national
 interests in a more collaborative decision-making process.

 Their efforts will target internal agency management and processes and
 emphasize working with other agencies such as USDI, the CEQ, and the
 Environmental Protection Agency to streamline interagency consultations an=
 approvals, particularly on forest health projects.

 Under Secretary Mark Rey and Chief Bosworth will report their findings to
 Secretary Veneman in 30 days. Mr. Rey and the Chief will also work with a
 USDI task group formed by Secretary Norton to provide a unified USDA/USDI
 report to the President.

 The Department of Agriculture and the Forest Service look forward to worki=
 with the Department of the Interior and Congress to design a regulatory an=
 administrative system that will allow us to carryout the President's
 strategy for healthy forests so the American people, their property, and o=
 environment will be safe and healthy for generations to come.

 For a copy of the Healthy Forests video, contact Jennifer Plyler at (202)
 205-1777 or e-mail jplyler@fs.fed.us. The video describes the
 destructiveness of past fire seasons and the need for active management to
 reduce catastrophic fire near communities and on federal lands.

 Secretary Norton's presentation on the Healthy Forests Initiative can be
 found at http://www.doi.gov/fire/firepresentation.pdf (large file-takes
 about 1-2 minutes to load).

 For a complete copy of Healthy Forests: An Agenda for Wildfire Prevention
 and Stronger Communities, go to

 A USDA and USDI news release on Healthy Forests can be found at


Kent L. Wimmer, AICP
Florida National Scenic Trail Liaison
Florida Trail Association, Inc.
(850) 523-8576 (w)
(850) 523-8578 (fax)
(850) 386-8442 (h)
Mailing address:
USDA Forest Service
National Forests in Florida
325 John Knox Rd, F-100
Tallahassee, FL 32303-4160

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