The Forest Service, within the Department of Agriculture, manages over 190 million acres of national forest and grasslands. The agency is responsible for managing its lands for various purposes--including recreation, grazing, timber harvesting, and others--while ensuring that such activities do not impair the lands' long-term productivity. Numerous GAO reports examining different aspects of Forest Service programs--including a testimony before this Subcommittee in 2009--have identified persistent management challenges facing the agency. In light of the federal deficit and long-term fiscal challenges facing the nation, the Forest Service cannot ensure that it is spending its limited budget effectively and efficiently without addressing these challenges. This testimony highlights some of the management challenges facing the Forest Service today and is based on recent reports GAO has issued on a variety of the agency's activities.
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