USFS Press Release: A Year of Progress

NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release
Contact: (202) 205-1005
Twitter: @forestservice
 

 

Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture reflects on year of progress

WASHINGTON, Dec 20, 2017 — The Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, today highlighted some of the agency’s accomplishments during 2017 to improve the productivity, uses, and sustainability of national forests and grasslands.

“Our accomplishments this year demonstrate the Forest Service’s strong commitment to improving the economic health of rural communities; ensuring lands and watersheds are sustainable, healthy and productive; and mitigating wildfire risk,” said Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke. “As the Forest Service moves into 2018, our priorities will continue to tie directly to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s strategic vision for the Department.”

Here are a few highlights of Forest Service accomplishments during 2017, derived from and inspired by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s strategic goals:

 

Improved the Conditions of America’s Forests

  • Employed the full suite of treatments and tools to improve conditions on more than 2.7 million acres of forestland. This work helped reduce fire severity and increase resilience;
  • Harvested more than 2.9 billion board feet of wood, leading to improved forest conditions and contributing wood products to local economies;
  • Used Farm Bill authorities to work on 60 projects addressing insect and disease infestations and partner with 35 states on restoration projects.

 

Worked toward a Fix to Fire Funding

  • USDA informed members of a national coalition on the impacts of the high costs of suppressing wildfire totaling $2.4 billion in Fiscal Year 2017 alone.
  • Built bipartisan support with key Congressional leaders to develop innovative options that fix the two-pronged problem of fire transfer and growing suppression costs;

 

Implemented the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Strategy

  • Treated more than 1.3 million high priority acres nationwide to reduce fire risk and improve forest conditions. Agency personnel focused on areas with communities, areas of high fire potential, and areas where risk could most effectively be alleviated;
  • Increased wildfire mitigation efforts in high-risk communities through partnerships with organizations such as the Fire-Adapted Communities Coalition and The Nature Conservancy;
  • Improved 1.33 million acres of wildlife habitat, and treated over 73,600 acres for noxious weeds and invasive plants;

 

Responded to Record Wildfires and Hurricanes

  • Confronted wildland fires that started in the Southeast and continued through the year in the Southwest, Pacific Northwest, Intermountain West and Pacific Northwest.  At peak season, more than 28,000 personnel were dispatched to fires, along with aircraft and other emergency response resources;
  • Responded during three hurricane events; Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Dispatched highly skilled crews, incident management teams, and Law Enforcement Officers to Puerto Rico to rapidly clear roads, remove debris and protect public safety in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

 

The mission of the Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.

13 Comments

  1. Disappointed but not surprised to see NO mention of “the NFs helped to mitigate climate change by sequestering ….. tons of carbon during 2017.” Numerous studies show the importance of forests for storage but the agency (I was in it for 10 years) doesn’t seem to have that role on its radar; yet.
    As the old forest plans are revised the agency needs to tackle climate change rather than brushing it off.

    • Andy note the major change in tactics that now burn 3-4 times more acres per large fire and suppression costs have gone up exponentially. While environmentalist worried about industrial logging, an entire new industry which nets more profit has emerged and is destroying more old growth in the last 10 years than logging did in the last 20. The pay off is excessive overtime and free travel for agency personnel, with less work actually fighting fire than was previously required, since the goal seems to be a full 15 day tour with possible extensions if the fire is still going…………… Does anyone else see a problem?

    • Back to the Basics! It would seem that the pendulum is gaining momentum………… while it is a much needed correction, I have reservations about how far back we’ll go. It would be a breath of fresh air too see Enviormental Groups realize where things are going and come to the table with legitimate compromises. My guess is they are so stuck in ideology that compromise is not an option.

      • Ready 2 compromise? On what, the science that shows how vast, poorly maintained NF roads systems impact water quality and fragment habitat?
        FS still has overall ideology that logging is best tool for any problem; some in agency seem stuck in glory days of ’70’s – ’80’s. I think they need to change too; climate issues anyone?????

        • The argument that you present is one that is stuck in the 80’s. It is called rhetoric and it is being ignored more frequently. There are very few agency personnel that still have the knowledge to manage logging, particularly cable systems, let alone carry on an ideology of it being the best tool for any problem. BUT it is a tool that has a purpose and many believe that it is a better alternative than months of smoke, the loss of thousands of homes and millions in natural resources, all while spending over 2 billion in suppression costs. The conditions of system roads have degraded from maintenance and a lack of funding to even decommission since there is little harvest.
          Climate change is not the reason for the fires, if it was then there would be an equal increase of acres burned on State and private lands. In fact much of the increase of acres burned on State and private land is the result of fires coming off Federal lands.
          I guess the short answer is that you see no reason for compromise and as such are part of the reason things are changing, for that I say Thank You!

          • I had a logger on a USFS salvage sale who had almost every kind of machine around… and then he bought a fancy Kamen helicopter, too (then he went broke trying to pay for the helicopter). I had the great opportunity to sit in the cab with the operator on a cable machine, and he showed me what an operator can do to minimize the damage. It looks very challenging to try and keep the inevitable oscillations to a minimum, and (mostly) keeping the log partially suspended. He also had a ‘jammer’ that pitches tongs and winches them up. It’s an amazing machine that has up to 250 feet of line. The operator swings the tongs and ‘casts’ them, much like a fisherman does. Depending on the slope, those tongs can fly pretty far, with a good operator. Some can even whirl the tongs in a circle, like a softball pitcher.

            I had another logger doing a service contract with tiny ‘bobcat’ tractors, each of them with ‘shears’.. He had three sizes and was very skilled on all of them.

            • The issue that is more and more common, is the lack of understanding that starts in the layout process and then continues with the administration. The “oligists” identify countless areas of protection, the layout crew identifies where the landings are, with added restrictions of tree diameter, species protection, etc.
              The simple idea that a cable tends to go in a straight line when under tension, is a lost concept. Even further lost is the idea that gravity causes objects to fall straight down causing lines to pull further to the downhill side when a turn is attached.
              The ability of the equipment is also restricted because agency people don’t know the true capabilities of most equipment with an experienced operator. Often missing the opportunity to better accomplish the end goal with a better result throughout the process.
              On a side note, I’ve had a tong thrower operator that could consistently throw 400’+ and hit within 10-20’. It was always amazing to be in the brush when he was working.

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