The Government Accountability Office is telling the Forest Service to improve how it deals with the woody material it clears from forests. (Photo courtesy of the USDA)
The government’s effort to reduce wildfires in forests has some
side effects, and a Congressional watchdog agency says the U.S. Forest
Service isn’t doing a very good job of dealing with those side effects.
The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:
The government’s effort to reduce wildfires in forests has some side effects. A Congressional watchdog agency says the U.S. Forest Service isn’t doing a very good job of dealing with the side effects. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:
The Forest Service clears out a lot of smaller trees, limbs, and underbrush from forest floors. The idea is to remove what could become fuel for wildfires. Generally, the material is turned into wood chips. The wood chips can be used as fuel or in wood composite products for construction.
The Departments of the Interior and Energy have been working together to try to find new ways to use what the government calls the “woody biomass.” But the Forest Service doesn’t have anyone coordinating with the other agencies.
The Government Accountability Office is calling on the Forest Service to appoint someone to take responsibility for overseeing and coordinating the agency’s “woody biomass activities.” The GAO indicated the material currently has little or no commercial value, but finding new markets for it would be helped if the Forest Service coordinated its efforts with the other agencies.
Some environmental groups have launched a petition drive to oust a top interior department official. However, their prospects of success are questionable. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Bill Wheelhouse reports:
Some environmental groups have launched a petition drive to oust a top interior
official. However, their prospects of success are questionable. Bill wheelhouse
Earth First, Greenpeace and the Common Assets Defense Fund are using an internet
drive to try to get Interior undersecretary, Steven Griles, fired. The groups say
association with the gas and coal industries demonstrates the Bush administration is
However, Michael Kraft, who tracks environmental policy at the University of
Bay, says the effort is unlikely to succeed.
“There clearly will be an effort to gain media attention to highlight what
believe to be unacceptable policies in the Interior Department and elsewhere within
administration and my guess is the Bush White House will find it very easy to
respond to those
criticisms much as they have for the last three years.”
Kraft says the drive might get more attention if larger environmental groups, such
as the Sierra
club, Audubon Society and Wildlife Federation took part.
But even if they did, he says it likely would not affect Griles standing within the
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Bill Wheelhouse.