Biscuit Fire Recovery Project: Analysis of Project Development, Salvage Sales, and Other Activities

GAO-06-967 Published: Sep 18, 2006. Publicly Released: Oct 04, 2006.
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In 2002, the Biscuit Fire burned almost 500,000 acres of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest in southwestern Oregon. In its wake, the Biscuit Fire Recovery Project (Project) is one of the largest, most complex postfire recovery projects undertaken by the Forest Service. Considerable controversy exists over the Project and its salvage sales to harvest dead trees. GAO was asked to determine (1) how the Project compares with the Forest Service's general approach to postfire recovery, (2) the status of the Project's salvage sales and how the reported financial and economic results of the sales compare with initial estimates, (3) the status of other Project activities, and (4) the extent of reported improper logging and the agency's response. To answer these objectives, GAO reviewed Project environmental analysis documents, plans, and activity reports and interviewed agency officials.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Forest Service To help keep the Congress and the public informed on the status of the Biscuit Fire Recovery Project and the significant research work on the postfire effects of salvage and nonsalvage management actions, the Chief of the Forest Service should direct the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest Supervisor and the Pacific Northwest Regional Forester to provide an annual public report on the status of the activities included in the Project. The report should provide an update on the status of work accomplished and still planned for each of the activities in the Biscuit Fire Recovery Project EIS and records of decision: fuel treatments, prescribed burning, salvage harvest, vegetation and wildlife restoration, roads and water quality, and the large-scale study. The agency should produce such reports until the Project is substantially complete.
Closed – Implemented
The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest issued its 2006 monitoring report in November 2007. It includes a whole section on the Biscuit Fire Recovery Project, per our recommendation. According to the forest's forestry official, the forest will continue to include this in the monitoring report until the project is substantially completed, which is anticipated in 2012.

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