U.S. Forest Service lists a year of progress in improving woodland productivity
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, today highlighted some of the agency’s accomplishments during 2017 to improve the productivity, uses, and sustainability of national forests and grasslands.
“Our accomplishments this year demonstrate the Forest Service’s strong commitment to improving the economic health of rural communities; ensuring lands and watersheds are sustainable, healthy and productive; and mitigating wildfire risk,” said Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke.
“As the Forest Service moves into 2018, our priorities will continue to tie directly to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s strategic vision for the Department.”
Here are a few highlights of Forest Service accomplishments during 2017, derived from and inspired by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s strategic goals:

Improved the Conditions of America’s Forests 

Employed the full suite of treatments and tools to improve conditions on more than 2.7 million acres of forestland. This work helped reduce fire severity and increase resilience;
Harvested more than 2.9 billion board feet of wood, leading to improved forest conditions and contributing wood products to local economies;
Used Farm Bill authorities to work on 60 projects addressing insect and disease infestations and partner with 35 states on restoration projects.

Worked toward a Fix to Fire Funding

USDA informed members of a national coalition on the impacts of the high costs of suppressing wildfire totaling $2.4 billion in Fiscal Year 2017 alone.
Built bipartisan support with key Congressional leaders to develop innovative options that fix the two-pronged problem of fire transfer and growing suppression costs;

Implemented the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Strategy

Treated more than 1.3 million high priority acres nationwide to reduce fire risk and improve forest conditions. Agency personnel focused on areas with communities, areas of high fire potential, and areas where risk could most effectively be alleviated;
Increased wildfire mitigation efforts in high-risk communities through partnerships with organizations such as the Fire-Adapted Communities Coalition and The Nature Conservancy;
Improved 1.33 million acres of wildlife habitat, and treated over 73,600 acres for noxious weeds and invasive plants;

Responded to Record Wildfires and Hurricanes 

Confronted wildland fires that started in the Southeast and continued through the year in the Southwest, Pacific Northwest, Intermountain West and Pacific Northwest.  At peak season, more than 28,000 personnel were dispatched to fires, along with aircraft and other emergency response resources;
Responded during three hurricane events; Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Dispatched highly skilled crews, incident management teams, and Law Enforcement Officers to Puerto Rico to rapidly clear roads, remove debris and protect public safety in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
The mission of the Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.  www.fs.fed.us 

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About the author
Bill Esler | ConfSenior Editor

Bill wrote for WoodworkingNetwork.com, FDMC and Closets & Organized Storage magazines. 

Bill's background includes more than 10 years in print manufacturing management, followed by more than 30 years in business reporting on industrial manufacturing in the forest products industries, including printing and packaging at American Printer (Features Editor) and Graphic Arts Monthly (Editor in Chief) magazines; and in secondary wood manufacturing for WoodworkingNetwork.com.

Bill was deeply involved with the launches of the Woodworking Network Leadership Forum, and the 40 Under 40 Awards programs. He currently reports on technology and business trends and develops conference programs.

In addition to his work as a journalist, Bill supports efforts to expand and improve educational opportunities in the manufacturing sectors, including 10 years on the Print & Graphics Scholarship Foundation; six years with the U.S. WoodLinks; and currently on the Woodwork Career Alliance Education Committee. He is also supports the Greater West Town Training Partnership Woodworking Program, which has trained more than 950 adults for industrial wood manufacturing careers. 

Bill volunteers for Foinse Research Station, a biological field station staddling the border of Ireland and Northern Ireland, one of more than 200 members of the Organization of Biological Field Stations.