Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announces 10 Year strategy to reduce wildfires
The bipartisan infrastructure bill set aside nearly $3 billion dollars to reduce hazardous wildfire fuels and restore American forests and grasslands.
US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says it will mean significantly more work each year.
“We now will be able to do for the next five years around $650 million dollars of additional work. That’s a 350% increase in the level of commitment just on the treatment side. There will be additional money for restoration.”
USDA‘s new 10 year strategy includes plans to treat 20 million acres of federal forest service land that were previously neglected plus 30 million acres of state and privately held land.
“I think it’s fair to say we have already identified large scale priority areas, we know the pacific northwest is an area of attention, we know that range in California is an area of attention, we know there are forests in Colorado and understand the forests here in Arizona and the southwest need our attention.”
He says their focus is on mitigation to keep fires more manageable.
“If we do a little treatment, if we thin out, if we do prescribed burning we can actually significantly reduce the risk of a fire once it starts. We aren’t going to stop fires, there are literally thousands of lightning strikes a year, and sadly some careless folks, but what we can do is reduce the tragic nature of these fires.”
Secretary Vilsack says USDA will also be engaging with stakeholders over the 10-year plan to continue adapting the strategy and to track progress.
Forest Service scientists have also identified what they call “high risk fire sheds” which are typically about 250 thousand acres in size to help guide mitigation efforts and protect communities that could be the most at risk from wildfires.