Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has announced funding to fight the bark beetle infestation in several Western States. Vilsack says he became acutely aware of the infestation, which is devastating forests, while spending time in several states earlier this year. Congressional members from Colorado, South Dakota, and Wyoming have challenged the Forest Service and USDA to provide resources for additional help.
"So today I'm pleased to announce that the USDA Forest Service will commit $40 million in additional funding to address the Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region's public safety concerns and forest health needs," Vilsack said. "The bark beetle is in epidemic stages across Western States, with millions of acres impacted and affected."
Vilsack says the epidemic has a severe impact on forest health and has resulted in the dramatic increase in the danger of trees falling on trails, roads and recreational areas and also has increased the fire hazard caused by dead and dieing trees.
"Earlier this year I laid out a vision for the Forest Service in which I cited severe forest health problems," Vilsack said. "The action we take today is an important component of our plan to move forward with the needed restoration efforts to make forests more resilient to climate change, to protect our water resources, and to protect and preserve forests for future generations."
To hear more of Vilsack's and Colorado Governor Bill Ritter's remarks use the audio player above.