Prepared Remarks of Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne Teleconference on ’07 Funds for Healthy Lands Initiative
Washington, D.C., Tuesday, April 10, 2007
I would like to announce a new development regarding the Administration’s Healthy Lands Initiative.
This initiative is a central feature of the President’s proposed Interior Department budget for Fiscal Year 2008, which our department announced on February 5.
This initiative is aimed at improving the health and productivity of the public lands in today’s fast-growing West.
We developed the Healthy Lands Initiative to get out in front of, as well as respond to, a multitude of pressures on the public lands – pressures that come in the form of increased urban-suburban development; increased outdoor recreational activity; rising demands for energy; impacts from large-scale wildfires; and the effects of an ongoing weed invasion.
To deal with these public land pressures, our initiative takes an aggressive, landscape-level approach to land management, one that will facilitate needed energy development while protecting a myriad of resources on the public lands, including world-class wildlife habitat.
As a demonstration of our Department’s commitment to this initiative, I am pleased to announce today that the Bureau of Land Management is tapping $3 million from its current ’07 appropriated funds to launch this initiative immediately in seven Western States.
This money comes from a funding increase that Congress allotted the Bureau through a joint resolution on the ’07 budget, which enables the BLM to supplement funding for its top-priority work.
The states affected by the initiative are Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Oregon, and Nevada.
The $3 million allocated to these states, I would note, will go to projects involving other public or private partners and will be completed by the end of Fiscal Year 2007 (September 30, 2007).
The funds, which will benefit 74,000 acres of BLM-managed public land, will be distributed as follows:
$1 million to New Mexico for a 40,000-acre mesquite brush control project that is expected to be completed in May.
$439,000 to Utah for the removal of pinyon and juniper trees to enhance sage-grouse and mule deer habitat.
$402,000 to Wyoming for sagebrush prescribed burns, riparian restoration, aspen regeneration, and wildlife water developments.
$380,000 to Idaho for southern Idaho-Snake River Plains for sage-grouse habitat restoration through planting sagebrush seedlings and controlling invasive weeds.
$325,000 to Colorado for the removal of pinyon and juniper trees, oak brush, and sagebrush, which would be followed by seeding to improve the composition of herbaceous vegetation. Riparian restoration will also take place with this funding.
Rounding out the funding, $454,000 would go to the tri-state area of southeast Oregon, northern Nevada, and southwest Idaho. This money would be used for shrub-steppe restoration through juniper removal, invasive weed control, and riparian restoration.
We anticipate these funds will generate nearly $3 million in in-kind and monetary assistance from BLM’s state, local and private partners on these projects.
More details about these on-the-ground projects can be obtained from BLM staff in the seven affected states, whose Directors or Associate State Directors are on this teleconference call today and are ready to respond to your state-specific questions.
Before opening up this teleconference to questions, let me note that the BLM faces tough challenges in carrying out its multiple-use mission in today’s fast-changing West, where demand for public land uses and products is at an all-time high.
The Healthy Lands Initiative will help the BLM fulfill its mission, which is crucial not only in maintaining the quality of life that Westerners have come to expect, but also in ensuring the economic well-being and energy security of all Americans.
Through this initiative, we can ensure that America’s public lands stay healthy and productive for multiple uses, both now and in the years to come.
I’d now like to open up this teleconference to any questions you may have.