Our nation's forests and rangelands are at risk. An estimated 190
million acres of federal forests and rangelands in the U.S., an area
twice the size of California, face high risk of catastrophic fire. Years
of natural fuels buildup, coupled with drought, insect and disease
damage make our forests vulnerable to environmentally destructive fires.
Many ponderosa pine forests are 15 times denser than they were a century
ago. Where 25 to 35 trees once grew per acre, now more than 500 trees
are crowded together in unhealthy conditions.
In 2000, the United States suffered its worst wildland fires in 50
years. Last year's fire season - among the worst in the last 40 years -
saw 88,458 fires burn 7.2 million acres, an area larger than Maryland
and Rhode Island combined. Three states - Oregon, Colorado and Arizona -
had their worst fires in history in 2002.
The Bush Administration - through the Department of the Interior
agencies and the Forest Service at the Department of Agriculture - is
responding to this challenge by: proposing record levels of funding for
firefighting (up 55 percent from 2000), hiring additional fire fighters,
purchasing additional equipment, accomplishing record levels of fuels
treatment (this year's estimated 2.8 million acres being treated is up
1,600,000 acres since 2000) and by advancing its Healthy Forests
Initiative as a long-term solution.
On December 3, 2003, President George W. Bush signed the Healthy
Forests Restoration Act of 2003, vital legislation that supports the
Administration's Healthy Forests Initiative.
For more Information visit:
DOI/USDA Healthy Forests website
Wildland Fire Information
Interagency Fire Center
Healthy Forests Initiative and Healthy Forests Restoration Act Interim
Forests Initiative / Healthy Forests Restoration Act Fact Sheet