The President's Healthy Forests Initiative
EA Pilot Projects
The American people, their property, and our environment, particularly the forests and rangelands of the West, are threatened by catastrophic fires and environmental degradation. The last several fire seasons are some of the worst in modern history. Hundreds of millions of trees and invaluable habitat are destroyed each year by these severe wildfires. These unnaturally extreme fires are caused by a crisis of deteriorating forest and rangeland health, the result of a century of well-intentioned but misguided wildland fire management. Renewed efforts to restore our public lands to healthy conditions are needed.
America 's public lands have undergone radical changes during the last century due to the suppression of fires. Today, the forests and rangelands of the West have become unnaturally dense, and ecosystem health has suffered significantly. When coupled with seasonal droughts, these unhealthy forests, overloaded with fuels, are vulnerable to unnaturally severe wildfires. Currently, 190 million acres of public land are at increased risk of catastrophic wildfires.
In August 2002, President Bush announced the Healthy Forests Initiative, directing the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior and the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to develop administrative and legislative measures that will help reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire to America's forests and rangelands. The initiative builds on a historic ten-year plan for reducing wildfire risks adopted last spring by federal agencies in cooperation with western and southern governors, county commissioners, state foresters and tribal officials.
The Healthy Forests Initiative will implement core components of the National Fire Plan's 10-year Comprehensive Strategy and Implementation Plan. The historic plan, which was adopted this spring by federal agencies and western governors, in collaboration with county commissioners, state foresters, and tribal officials, calls for more active forest and rangeland management. It establishes a framework for protecting communities and the environment through local collaboration on thinning, planned burns and forest restoration projects.
In December 2002, the President announced work on the Model Environmental Assessment (EA) component of the Healthy Forests Initiative. The focus of the current EA Guidance is on fuels treatment projects to improve forest, woodland and rangeland health. This included direction from the CEQ that provides a framework for administratively streamlining the process to allow for more efficient management of fuels reduction efforts.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) selected seven EA pilot projects that focus on priority hazardous fuels treatments. The projects are located in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Utah. Click on the links below for additional information.