Thursday, February 19, 2009

Forestry's share of stimulus bill will go to jobs, fire prevention

The Mail Tribune reports:

Shovel-ready projects that will put people to work quickly while improving forest health and reducing the likelihood of catastrophic wildfires near rural communities will be the focus of federal economic stimulus money earmarked for the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Oregon. That was the message Regional Forester Mary Wagner and BLM state director Ed Shepard gave to U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River, during a video conference Wednesday. "The instruction we've been given for prioritization is to give the greatest weight to projects that will create the largest number of jobs in the shortest period of time and which will create lasting value for the American public," Shepard said. "This is an employment opportunity outside the federal sector," Wagner stressed. "We will address our key priorities and put people back to work." The stimulus package is expected to make $1.15 billion available to the Forest Service nationwide beyond its already planned work, Wagner said, including $650 million for working on roads, trails, abandoned mines, watershed restoration and ecosystem enhancement. An additional $500 million would be earmarked for reducing wildfire threats. Nationally, the BLM and other Department of the Interior agencies will receive funding in three areas, including $125 million for forest health and restoration, $180 million for construction of roads and bridges and deferred maintenance, and $15 million for high-priority hazardous fuels treatment, Shepard said...

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