The Healthy Forest Restoration Act

Article Written by:
Janean Creighton, Oregon State University Extension, Corvallis, OR

Photo by Andy Perleberg, WSU

The Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA) was signed into law by President George W. Bush in December 2003. The legislation is intended to reduce the threat of destructive wildfires while upholding environmental standards and encouraging public input early in the planning process. The HFRA strengthens public participation in developing high priority areas, uses the best science available to actively manage public lands, allows for a pre-decisional objections process that encourages public participation early in the planning and issues clear guidance for court actions challenging HFRA projects. Language in the act regarding purposes is as follows:

“The purposes of this act are—

  1. to reduce wildfire risk to communities, municipal water supplies, and other at-risk Federal land through a collaborative process of planning, prioritizing, and implementing hazardous fuel reduction projects;
  2. to authorize grant programs to improve the commercial value of forest biomass (that otherwise contributes to the risk of catastrophic fire or insect or disease infestation) for producing electric energy, useful heat, transportation fuel, and petroleum based product substitutes, and for other commercial purposes;
  3. to enhance efforts to protect watersheds and address threats to forest and rangeland health, including catastrophic wildfire, across the landscape;
  4. to promote systematic gathering of information to address the impact of insect and disease infestations and other damaging agents on forest and rangeland health;
  5. to improve the capacity to detect insect and disease infestations at an early stage, particularly with respect to hardwood forests; and
  6. to protect, restore, and enhance forest ecosystem components—
(A) to promote the recovery of threatened and endangered species;
(B) to improve biological diversity; and
(C) to enhance productivity and carbon sequestration.”

The entire Act H.R.1904 can be viewed at Healthy Forests Restoration Act.