Report: Forest restoration work not keeping pace with demand

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Forest Service says it has increased the pace and scale of its forest restoration work since 2011, but progress waned this year and the agency risks falling further behind.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is using a new report to press Congress to change the way in which the federal government funds wildfire fighting.

The report states that the Forest Services was able to thin out more than 4.6 million acres of forest lands in 2014, a 9 percent increase from 2011. The amount of timber produced for public consumption increased by about 12 percent during that same period.

The Obama administration is pressing for legislation that would treat the most devastating wildfires as natural disasters and relieve pressure on other parts of the Forest Service's budget.