Forest Service: Continued Work Needed to Address Persistent Management Challenges Page: 3 of 15
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Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:
Thank you for the opportunity to be here today to discuss management
challenges facing the Forest Service. As the steward of more than
190 million acres of national forest and grassland, the Forest Service, within
the Department of Agriculture, is responsible for managing its lands for
various purposes-including recreation, rangeland, timber, wilderness, and
the protection of watersheds and wildlife-while ensuring that the agency's
management of the lands does not impair their long-term productivity. In
managing its lands in accordance with these purposes, the agency provides
a variety of goods and services. Goods include timber, natural gas, oil,
minerals, and range for livestock to graze. Watersheds on Forest Service
lands provide drinking water to thousands of communities, and the national
forests and grasslands themselves offer the public recreational
opportunities, such as camping, hiking, and rafting. To carry out its
responsibilities, the Forest Service employs about 30,000 permanent full-
time employees and maintains hundreds of regional, forest, and ranger
district offices nationwide, as well as a network of research facilities.
Appropriations for the agency totaled $6.2 billion in fiscal year 2010.
My testimony today updates our 2009 testimony before this Subcommittee
on Forest Service management challenges' and is based primarily on
findings from several reports we have recently issued on the agency's
activities.2 Specifically, I will focus on management challenges in three key
areas we identified in our 2009 testimony-wildland fire management, data
on program activities and costs, and financial and performance
accountability-as well as on additional challenges related to program
oversight and strategic planning. As we stated in 2009, in light of the
federal deficit and long-term fiscal challenges facing the nation, it is
important for the Forest Service to address these management challenges
to ensure that its limited budget is effectively and efficiently spent.
'GAO, Forest Service: Emerging Issues Highlight the Need to Address Persistent
Management Challenges, GAO-09-443T (Washington, D.C: Mar. 11, 2009).
2See the list of related GAO products at the end of this statement, which were generally
conducted in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
Additional information on the scope and methodology used for this body of work is
provided in each issued product.
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United States. Government Accountability Office. Forest Service: Continued Work Needed to Address Persistent Management Challenges, text, March 10, 2011; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc291208/m1/3/: accessed February 20, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.