WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns is joining with the Department of the Interior, the Western Governor's Association and the National Association of Counties in reestablishing their commitment to enhance the health of forests, grasslands and prairies and protect communities from wildland fires.



The original Implementation Plan for the 10-Year Comprehensive Strategy, finalized in 2002, set ambitious goals to prevent and suppress wildland fires, thin forests to reduce hazardous fuels, restore forest and rangeland health and assist communities in protecting themselves and in developing their forest-based economies. The updated plan reflects lessons learned and adjust process to increase effectiveness.



"We've really opened productive channels of communication with all our cooperaters and accomplished a great deal," said Johanns. "With a record 9.4 million acres burned in 2006, we are reminded that we have more work to do together. The updated 10-Year Strategy reinforces our goals and updates the tasks to reflect the current environmental and social challenges."



The newer goals, performance measures and tasks in the updated plan incorporates opportunities created by the Healthy Forest Initiative and the Healthy Forest Restoration Act. In addition, a summary of helpful practices for applying plan's collaborative framework is provided to assist stakeholders in the process of working together to expedite projects such as Community Wildfire Protection Plans.



Given the growing potential for large, expensive wildfires caused by overly dense forests, drought, disease and insect infestations, and a growing population in the wildland-urban interface, the updated 10-Year Comprehensive provides renewed vigor to ongoing restoration and protection efforts.



The plan "A Collaborative Approach for Reducing Wildland Fire Risks to Communities and the Environment: 10-Year Comprehensive Strategy Implementation Plan" and the Governors, Counties and Secretaries letter to the Congress can be found online.

SOURCE: USDA news release.