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Highlights

In an effort to reduce the risk of wildland fires, many federal land managers--including the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)--are placing greater emphasis on thinning forests and rangelands to help reduce the buildup of potentially hazardous fuels. These thinning efforts generate considerable quantities of woody material, including many smaller trees, limbs, and brush--referred to as woody biomass--that currently have little or no commercial value. GAO was asked to determine (1) which federal agencies are involved in efforts to promote the use of woody biomass, and actions they are undertaking; (2) how these agencies are coordinating their activities; and (3) what agencies see as obstacles to increasing the use of woody biomass, and the extent to which they are addressing these obstacles.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Agriculture To improve the Forest Service's effectiveness in promoting woody biomass utilization, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief of the Forest Service to assign responsibility for overseeing and coordinating the agency's woody biomass utilization activities to a specific official or office within the agency.
Closed - Implemented
GAO recommended that the Forest Service assign responsibility for overseeing and coordinating the agency's woody biomass utilization activities to a specific official or office within the agency. In response to the recommendation, the Forest Service assigned this responsibility to an official with the agency's Forest Management branch. In addition, the agency created the Biomass Utilization Steering Committee to provide direction and support for agency biomass utilization. Based on these actions, this recommendation is closed.

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