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Front St.Trails Section - Clovis Free PressBack St.
Vol. 17  No. 21 Final Edition
Clovis Free Press
August 29, 2000
Economics & National Forests Health
By Amy Williams, Staff Writer

Brush fire leaps to tops of trees.    CLOVIS -- The economic value of the nation's national forests 192 million acres and generates nearly 500,000 jobs in timber, mining, grazing and other uses according to the research of timber industry official Chris West of the Northwest Forestry Association in Portland, Ore.
     The Forest Service analysis predicted timber would generate $4 billion for the economy and 76,000 jobs by 2000, and that minerals, grazing and other activities would generate $19 billion and 331,000 jobs. The moist recent Forest Service study this year estimates that water in national forests is worth $4 billion. A 1997 study by Forest Service economists estimated that wild areas have a value of $108 billion.
    All of this is at risk from wildfire threat (fuelólive and dead vegetationóbuildup). Years of fire suppression and other management practices have resulted in high-intensity fires that threaten the lives of the public and firefighters, private and public property, and critical natural resources. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service has identified approximately 39 million acres of National Forest System lands—primarily in the interior West and the Atlantic coastal States—that are at high risk from catastrophic fires. Many of these forests are overcrowded, resulting in high mortality rates from bark beetle and other insect and disease outbreaks. High forest mortality rates result in excessive fuel buildups.
    To minimize fuel buildups, the USDA Forest Service annually treats about 1.5 million acres through mechanical treatment and prescribed burning. By the year 2005, the goal is to treat at least 3 million acres per year to address the most critical high-fire-risk areas. In treating acres at risk—and minimizing the impact to the public—the USDA Forest Service works closely with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), State organizations, and others to manage smoke duration and volume.
     In addition to these treatments, the threat of destructive crown fires in unnaturally dense forest stands is being reduced through thinning of small-diameter trees. Wildlife biologists participate in treatment design and implementation to ensure that wildlife habitat needs are being met while reducing the potential for catastrophic wildland fires.

Letter to the Edit

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