Vilsack announces new vision for U.S. forests

USDA's Forest Service intends to improve forest health through management.
USDA's Forest Service intends to improve forest health through management.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today outlined his vision for the Forest Service, what he called a new direction for conservation, management and restoration of national forests.

"Our nation's forestlands, both public and private, are environmental and economic assets that are in critical need of restoration and conservation," Vilsack said in a major speech Friday.

"By using a collaborative management approach with a heavy focus on restoring these natural resources, we can make our forests more resilient to climate change, protect water resources and improve forest health while creating jobs and opportunities," Vilsack said.

The new direction calls for USDA to reverse the trend of declining forest health and aims to secure the nation's water supply by protecting watersheds.

The Obama administration is funding 512 projects that will create jobs restoring private, state and national forests through hazardous fuel reduction, forest health protection, rehabilitation and hazard mitigation activities.

Nearly 170 of these projects will help maintain our forests to reduce the potential for fires while another $57 million supporting 30 projects will promote the development of biofuels from woody biomass.

Biofuels including biodiesel can be used to power construction equipment and agricultural equipment, reducing air pollutants and supporting farmers who grow biofuel stock.