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From: Paul Williams
To: All
Date: 2003-08-16 04:16:48
Subject: Press Release (030811) for Mon, 2003 Aug 11

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 11, 2003

President Bush Promotes Healthy Forests in Arizona


     In Focus: Healthy Forests


President Bush toured Inspiration Rock in the Coronado National Forest near
Tucson, Arizona, to promote the need for healthy forests. The President
viewed the effects of the 84,750 acre Aspen Fire that destroyed 333
residences and structures in the Summerhaven community. Using the
President's Healthy Forests Initiative, the Bush Administration has taken
steps to establish a more effective and timely process to protect
communities, wildlife habitats, and municipal watersheds from catastrophic
fires. Compared with 2001 levels, the President's FY 2003 budget more than
doubled the funding for Arizona forest health projects, and about twice as
many forested acres will be treated in Arizona this year.

Last year, in the midst of one of the Nation's worst wildfire seasons,
President Bush proposed the Healthy Forests Initiative to care for forests
and rangelands, to reduce the risk to communities, and to protect
threatened and endangered species. The fires in 2002 consumed roughly 7
million acres, caused the deaths of 23 firefighters, and destroyed 842
structures.

President Bush directed Federal agencies to develop administrative and
legislative tools to restore forests and woodlands to more healthy, natural
conditions and to assist in executing core components of the National Fire
Plan. The Healthy Forests Initiative is providing public land managers the
tools to undertake commonsense management of our forests and woodlands. The
initiative focuses on reducing the risk of catastrophic fire by thinning
dense undergrowth and brush in priority locations that are collaboratively
selected by Federal, state, tribal, and local officials and communities.
President Bush increased funding for thinning work nearly threefold--from
$117 million in 2000 to $417 million in his FY 2004 budget request. The
initiative also provides for more timely responses to disease and insect
infestations that threaten to devastate forests.

Taking care of our public lands also protects neighboring private
landowners from suffering the consequences of inaction. Although progress
is being made, an estimated 190 million acres of Federal forests and
rangelands in the United States, an area almost twice the size of
California, continue to face an elevated risk of catastrophic fire due to
unnatural, densely packed forest conditions and insect and disease damage.
Today, wildfires are burning in many states, and 1.8 million acres have
burned so far this year.

Last year, the Administration set a record in the amount of treatment work
done. More than 2.25 million acres of overstocked forests were returned to
a more healthy condition. This is a million acres more than were treated in
FY 2000. By the end of FY 2003, even more acres of overstocked forests --
2.57 million acres -- are projected to be treated.

Key Components of the President's Healthy Forests Initiative:

  ■ Prioritizes projects that will restore and care for our forests and
    rangelands, reduces the risk to communities, and protects threatened
    and endangered species habitat.

  ■ Facilitates timely reviews of forest health restoration and
    rehabilitation projects with a collaboration of state, local, and
    tribal governments and interested persons.

  ■ Promotes early community involvement.

  ■ Accelerates the treatment of hazardous undergrowth and brush.

  ■ Complies with all environmental statutes.

Legislative Action:

  ■ The Administration strongly supports H.R. 1904, the Healthy Forests
    Restoration Act, which the House passed on May 20, 2003 with strong
    bipartisan support.

  ■ The Senate Agriculture Committee recently voted in favor of similar
    forest health legislation. The full Senate is expected to consider the
    legislation in the fall.
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... "He came, he saw... and he released the Jello. <EG>" - Joost
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