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Recovery Investments in Hazardous Fuels Reduction in Public Lands

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The Department of the Interior is Investing $15 million in Hazardous Fuels Reduction to Create Jobs and Utilize Biomass.


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Music/Announcer:  This is a podcast from the U.S. Department of the Interior

Ron Tull: As part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act 2009, $15 million dollars will be invested in hazardous fuel reduction on public lands.  Thinning out overgrown tree stands, clearing out deadwood and dense underbrush that can feed a raging fire.

The Office of Wildland Fire Coordination says the multi-agency effort is working hard to clear out nearly a million acres a year. Kirk Rowdabaugh is the Director of the Office of Wildland Fire Coordination at the Department of the Interior and says the money will accelerate the pace of work.

Kirk Rowdabaugh: Every one of these projects is in a priority area that we would have done work in eventually anyway.  But this certainly allows us to accelerate the pace of doing work in those priority areas.  With the $15 million in Recovery Act funds we’re going to be able to do 55 projects that we wouldn’t have done otherwise.  We think that will create about 550 news jobs and be able to treat about 55,000 acres woodland and forest that we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.

Ron Tull: Additional criteria for the shovel-ready projects selected included an emphasis on job creation and use of wood biomass.

Kirk Rowdabaugh: Every one of the 55 projects that will be funded with the Recovery Act monies has the potential for biomass utilization.  And it was part of what we considered when we selected these projects.

Ron Tull: According to Rowdabaugh, biomass utilization will start to play a bigger role in fire management activities.

Kirk Rowdabaugh:  That much has been very clear, very early, that the Secretary’s office is going to put an emphasis on biomass utilization in conjunction with our other vegetation and fire management activities.

Ron Tull: As usual fire season got off to an early start.  The National Interagency Fire Center in Idaho issued its annual prediction last month.

Kirk Rowdabaugh: 2009 has been an interesting year already.  We started with an extreme drought in Florida and South Texas.  So we’ve seen a lot of fire activity in Florida and Georgia and we’ve some in West Texas already.  That should abate some in the very near future.  In fact it has in Texas abated already.  We’re going to see fire activity start and to pick up in central Arizona and in fact we’re seeing that now.  We’ve also seen fire activity increase in Alaska and we expect that to continue in both those states until the middle of July.  Fire activity in the Northern Rockies doesn’t appear to be as severe this year as it has been in the recent few years, but again we’ve already seen California have a very severe fire way before the normal California fire season in September, October, November.

Ron Tull: Kirk Rowdabaugh, Director of the Office of Wildland Fire Coordination, This podcast is produced by the U.S. Department of the Interior, I’m Ron Tull, Washington.

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