February 03, 2005

Crapo: Forest Health A Long-Term Commitment

Chairs hearing on community input, updates on forest treatment plans

Washington, DC - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo opened a Senate subcommittee review on the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA) today by warning the timetable to healthier forests could take years, not months, but federal agencies must work hard to get input from communities surrounded by forested public lands regarding the immediate fire danger on those lands. As chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committeeâ??s Forestry subcommittee, Crapo chaired the hearing to gather an update on how the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA) is working to date.â??The 2004 fire season is expected to be another difficult year. The drought facing our country continues to exacerbate the fire risks and many states in the west are expected to have another above-normal fire season. I raise this to make the point that we will have large fires this year and we will have large, destructive fires the year after and the year after that. Addressing these threats is a long term goal,â?? Crapo said. USDA Undersecretary Mark Rey told Crapo that he expects the efficiencies gained by the authorities under HFRA will help the federal agencies exceed their goals for hazardous fuels reduction acres in 2005. Crapo noted Idaho foresters are working on fuels reduction programs across the state, and he praised the involvement by Idahoans in helping write local forest plans. â??I have also heard from many in my state who understand how large the crisis is and are anxious to see projects occurring in their communities and in their forests. The authorities under this bill will help and are crucial to addressing threats on private and public lands, but the bill will not be implemented overnight,â?? he added. Crapo singled out Lemhi County Commissioner Robert Cope, a witness at todayâ??s hearing, saying urban interface mitigation plans written with local input are critical to success under the HFRA. â??The role of communities in addressing forest health cannot be understated,â?? Crapo said, adding those plans â??will be important in working with agencies on fuels reduction efforts.â?? Cope, representing the National Association of Counties, highlighted the Lemhi County wildland fire mitigation plan and expressed concern that litigation and appeals have prevented fuels reduction activities in the Salmon-Challis National Forest. He called the level of timber coming off the forest inadequate and the need for treatment under the Healthy Forest Restoration Act and the use of other management tools to reduce the fuel load. A satellite feed of Crapoâ??s Healthy Forests Restoration Act hearing is available:1:45-2:15 p.m. Mountain Time / 12:45-1:15 PacificC-BandGalaxy 3Transponder 7 HorizontalDownlink Frequency 3840Standard Audio # # #FOR INTERESTED MEDIA: A radio actuality is available by calling 1-800-545-1267. Press 327 at any time during or after the greeting and instructions. You can also access the actuality through the Internet at .