OR, USA — In an address to the International Association of Firefighters Monday, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced several projects for wildland fire protection and removal of hazardous fuels. These USDA projects, funded by the stimulus package, formally called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will create thousands of jobs in California, Colorado, Florida, and Oregon.
“President Obama is delivering on his promise to the American people to create jobs,” Vilsack said. “These private sector jobs will increase forest restoration and decrease the size and intensity of wildland fires. Providing healthy forests puts men and women to work and makes communities safer and healthier.”
The department received approximately $33 million from the stimulus package to fund wildland fire management projects and the removal of hazardous fuels. Projects funded by the Recovery Act also will assist with technology that converts wood to energy. Wood bioenergy, derived from the fiber of removed hazardous fuels, has become a cost-effective energy source.
The Department of Agriculture anticipates creating 25,000 new jobs over the next two years on projects relating to land stewardship and watershed restoration, green infrastructure repair and in the production of energy from wood. Many of the most affected communities of the economic downturn are located near national forests. Rural jobs are being created on millions of acres in need of restoration work so that money can flow into local communities.
In Oregon, initial wildland fire management projects totaling $16.5 million have been identified and will begin immediately. Many of these projects are associated with the Youth Employment Initiative and will offer work that supports natural resource management and conservation education.
Announcements of additional Forest Service projects funded by the stimulus are expected in the coming weeks. More information about the department’s efforts regarding the stimulus is available at www.usda.gov/recovery. More information about the Federal government’s efforts on the economic stimulus is available at www.recovery.gov.