National Assn. of State Foresters urges US Forest Service to move quickly to implement forest management projects in areas designated under 2014 Farm Bill, sees legislation as 'first step' in mitigating wildfire threats caused by diseases, insects

WASHINGTON , May 27, 2014 (press release) – More than 45 million acres of National Forest System lands will be assisted under Farm Bill provision

The USDA Forest Service (USFS) has designated landscape-scale insect and disease infestation areas on National Forest System lands. The designations are the first step in implementing badly needed management activities to combat the growing threat from insects and disease and mitigate the threats—such as increased fire hazard—that they pose.

As part section 8204 of the Agriculture Act of 2014 (“Farm Bill”), 36 state foresters submitted requests to highlight declining forest health in their area of jurisdiction.

Chris Maisch, Alaska State Forester and president of the National Association of State Foresters (NASF), said today:

“The National Association of State Foresters applauds Chief Tidwell’s announcement of these designations and we urge the USFS to move quickly to in implementing management projects in these areas. These projects can help meet the overwhelming demand for more active forest management across the National Forest System.

“The chief’s commendable action is the outcome of a bipartisan effort in Congress to give states a voice to highlight the scope and scale of the insect and disease epidemics on USFS lands within their states. We look forward to working with the USFS and our members to help design and quickly implement land management projects.

“Given limited budget resources and the scope of work state foresters face, we hope the USFS will be able to use authorities provided under the Farm Bill to be more efficient in getting work done in our forests to help us treat more of the acres already impacted and at risk to insect & disease infestations.

“State foresters and their agencies work to protect the clean air and water, wildlife, recreational opportunities, forest products and other benefits provided by America’s forests. Sustainable forest management helps support the social, economic, and ecological values that forests—both public and private—provide.”

Read the USDA press release.

Members of NASF are available for interviews this week. Contact Amanda Cooke, communications director at acooke@stateforesters.org or 202-624-5417.

The National Association of State Foresters is comprised of the directors of state and territorial forestry agencies and the District of Columbia. NASF seeks to advance sustainable forestry, conservation, and protection of forestlands and their associated resources. Learn more at www.stateforesters.org.

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