Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wildland Fire Management: Federal Agencies Have Taken Important Steps Forward, but Additional Action Is Needed to Address Remaining Challenges

This Government Accountability Office Testimony (GAO-09-906T) dated July 21, 2009 states that:

The Forest Service and Interior agencies have taken important steps toward enhancing their ability to protect communities and resources by seeking to (1) make communities and resources less susceptible to being damaged by wildland fire and (2) respond to fire so as to protect communities and important resources at risk while also considering both the cost and long-term effects of that response.

Despite the agencies’ efforts, much work remains. GAO has previously recommended several key actions that, if completed, would substantially improve the agencies’ management of wildland fire. Specifically, the agencies should:

•Develop a cohesive strategy laying out various potential approaches for addressing the growing wildland fire threat.

•Establish a cost-containment strategy that clarifies the importance of containing costs relative to other, often-competing objectives.

•Clarify financial responsibilities for fires that cross federal, state, and local jurisdictions.

•Take action to mitigate the effects of rising fire costs on other agency programs.

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