This Department of the Interior announced it had doubled and nearly tripled targets set by President Donald Trump for vegetation treatments to reduce wildfire risk in Fiscal Year 2019, marking the largest fuel load reduction in a decade, according to information from the DOI. The announcement came as the four land management agencies with wildland fire programs in the Department — the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — reported their end-of-year accomplishments.
In December 2018, the President issued Executive Order 13855, directing the DOI and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to promote active management of America’s forests and rangelands to reduce wildfire risk with specific targets for actions.
The DOI was required to:
- Treat 750,000 acres public lands to reduce fuel loads;
- Treat 500,000 acres of public lands to protect water quality and mitigate severe flooding and erosion risks arising from forest fires; and
- Reduce vegetation through forest health treatments by offering for sale 600 million board feet of timber from public lands.
Working toward those goals, the DOI announcement stated that they:
- Reduced fuel loads on more than 1.4 million acres of DOI-administered lands, covering nearly two times more acres than required under the Executive Order;
- Protected water quality on more than 1.4 million acres of DOI administered lands, nearly three times the acres required; and
- Planned for harvest or offered for sale more than 750 million board feet of timber to reduce vegetation giving rise to wildfire conditions, exceeding the target by 25 percent.