Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on: (1) the extent and seriousness of forest-health-related problems in national forests in the interior West; (2) the status of efforts by the Forest Service to address the most serious of these problems; and (3) barriers to successfully addressing these problems and options for overcoming them.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Agriculture||1. The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief of the Forest Service to develop, and formally communicate to Congress, a cohesive strategy for reducing and maintaining accumulated fuels on national forests of the interior West at acceptable levels. The strategy should include: (1) specific steps for: (a) acquiring the data needed to establish meaningful performance measures and goals for reducing fuels; (b) identifying ways of better reconciling different fuel reduction approaches with other stewardship objectives; and (c) identifying changes in incentives and statutorily defined contracting procedures that would better facilitate the accomplishment of fuel reduction goals; (2) a schedule indicating dates for completing each of these steps; and (3) estimates of the potential and likely overall and annual costs of accomplishing this strategy based on different options identified in the strategy as being available for doing so.|