On December 19, the Forest Service published a report on its three-year-old Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration program, intended to “restore priority forested landscapes, promote job stability, create a reliable wood supply, improve forest health, and reduce emergency wildfire costs across the United States.”
Interpreting progress on ten-year goals, USFS says that, from 2010 to 2012, the program improved the fire-resilency of 380,000 acres of forestland near communities and that “all of the projects managed under this program are on track to meet their 10-year goals, which cumulatively include treating more than 4 million acres . . . and producing 670 million cubic feet of timber.
The 40-page, illustrated report, "People Restoring America’s Forests," summarizes outcomes of projects on national forests throughout the country and provides comments from community leaders associated with each project.
Recent news account provide reminders that restoration projects remain controversial. A December 23 story from the Bozeman [Montana] Daily Chronicle finds two preservationist organizations going toe-to-toe with the city of Bozeman, which argues that it needs a federal thinning project to proceed to protect its water supply from the consequences of forest fires, while plaintiffs Alliance for the Wild Rockies and the Native Ecosystems Council claim that “thinning won’t prevent a wildfire and building roads is just as bad for the watersheds.” The project in question calls for burning, harvesting, and thinning 4,800 acres, and building seven miles of roads. The conflict has been going on since April 2012.
Meanwhile the December 27 Ruidoso [New Mexico] News refers to a “fire suppression industrial complex,” which local entrepreneurs say places bureaucratic obstacles in front of commodity-extractive solutions to wildland restoration because “the agencies and businesses that support fire suppression have become too dependent on fires.”
Submitted by the Forest Resources Association.