The Healthy Forest Restoration Act (HFRA) often called the Healthy Forest Initiative (HFI) when it was being developed, has now been signed by the President and is in the works for 2004. The HFRA is considered the biggest change in the management of our nation’s forests in 100 years. The HFRA makes it possible to conduct forest management activities that are needed to protect communities and our nation’s national forests from over crowding and heavy fuel loads that contribute to the intense fires that have occurred in the last decade.
The most prominent piece of the HFRA is that the counties will now have the authority to identify the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) often called the “Woo-EE”. The WUI is the area surrounding a community, structures, water sources or infra-structure that could be significantly damaged by wildfire. The counties will determine how large the WUI should be and its location in the county. Many counties have Fire Mitigation Plans or Community Based Fire Plans that identify the treatment areas within the WUI. Funding for these plans have come from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Department of Lands (IDL). Counties with Plans will have an opportunity to receive funding for fuel treatment projects throughout the WUI. The HFRA provides the authority, funding and a mechanism for the counties to implement fuel treatment projects to help protect and mitigate the effects of wildfire in their communities.
In addition to the HFRA act, the National Fire Plan (NFP) has been supporting communities and counties for the past three years. Also Forest Stewardship Contracting allows for the trade of goods for services and would involve 7 to 10 year contracts to implement treatments on federal lands. Forest Stewardship contracting supports communities by allowing for local involvement, a longer time frame and an opportunity to implement the needed treatment adjacent to the communities. There are many acronyms and many different opportunities for counties and communities to look at. The US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and the State of Idaho will be coming out with more information. If you have questions, give us a call at (208) 883-4488.