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Western National Forests: A Cohesive Strategy is Needed to Address Catastrophic Wildfire Threats

RCED-99-65 Published: Apr 02, 1999. Publicly Released: Apr 16, 1999.
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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

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Agriculture 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.
Closed – Implemented
The strategy was published in the Federal Register on November 9, 2000.

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Emergency preparednessEnvironmental monitoringForest conservationForest managementNational forestsNatural resourcesPublic landsWildfiresForest firesFuels