Campaign Promises

Departments -> Agriculture -> Forest Service

Forest ServiceGrade
AG-9 The Promise: "Will place a high priority on implementing cooperative projects to remove brush, small trees and other overgrown vegetation that serve as fuel for wildfires."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Committed to Wildfire Management and Community Protection" dated 10/18/08.
Status:Source is cited for confirmation of exact promise wording only, as it existed before original "When/Where" campaign document was deleted from archival websites.

The "Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006" (H.R. 6111) signed into law by President Bush on 12/20/06 codified the requirement for the implementation of a comprehensive, cost effective, multi-jurisdictional hazardous fuels reduction and fire prevention plans for the Lake Tahoe Basin, Carson Range, Carson City and Spring Mountain areas of Nevada.

Further-reaching legislation such as the "Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention Act of 2012" introduced by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) on 07/19/12 and its House counterpart bill (H.R. 5744) introduced by Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ) on 05/15/12 would have permitted the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior to extend wildfire prevention projects and to streamline projects to reduce the potential for wildfires. Neither of these bills progressed beyond initial committee reviews and expired with the 112th Congress at the end of CY2012.

Congressman Gosar reintroduced this legislation under H.R. 1345 on 03/21/13. It expired with the 113th Congress at the end of CY2014. Senator Lee did the same under S. 2286 on 11/17/15. His bill expired with the 114th Congress at the end of CY2016.

Nonetheless, the economic stimulus American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, signed into law on 02/17/09 by President Obama, provided an additional $500M to the USDA and an additional $15M to the Department of the Interior for "Wildland Fire Management."

This promise was fulfilled.
AG-10 The Promise: "Will use controlled burns and prescribed natural fire to reduce such fuels in close coordination with those communities that are most at risk"
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Committed to Wildfire Management and Community Protection" dated 10/18/08.
Status:Source is cited for confirmation of exact promise wording only, as it existed before original "When/Where" campaign document was deleted from archival websites.

Controlled burns and prescribed natural fires have been applied by communities since at least the 1930's according to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC). However, it is acknowledged that they sometimes haven't been applied in the areas most needed to prevent loss of individual properties.

On 03/10/09, Congressman Nick Rahall (D-WV) introduced the "Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement Act" (H.R. 1404), referred to as the "FLAME Act of 2009," to "authorize supplemental funding for catastrophic emergency wildland fire suppression develop a cohesive wildland fire management strategy."

On 10/29/09, the House and the Senate passed the "Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2010," which included Title V, the FLAME Act of 2009. President Obama signed this bill into law on 10/30/09. Annual appropriations since 2009 have continued to fund Forest Service, Department of Interior and other organizations responsible to implement provisions of the FLAME Act of 2009.

Based on NIFC-furnished statistics, the following represents the trend in number of prescribed fires by all participating organizations and affected acreage during President Obama's terms in office:
Year- - - - # of Burns- - - - # of Acres
2009- - - - - 12,429- - - - - 2,531,113
2010- - - - - 16,882- - - - - 2,423,862
2011- - - - - - 8,672- - - - - 2,112,811
2012- - - - - 16,626- - - - - 1,971,834
2013- - - - - 18,764- - - - - 2,000,040
2014- - - - - 17,044- - - - - 2,389,798
2015- - - - - 37,263- - - - - 2,958,260
2016- - - - - 83,005- - - - - 4,015,511

This promise was fulfilled.
AG-11 The Promise: "...will fight to protect roadless areas on Forest Service lands from all new road construction."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Supporting the Rights and Traditions of Sportsmen" dated 08/06/08.
Status:Early in his administration, President Obama delegated authority to the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to approve applications to build roads and proceed with logging operations in land areas under the purview of the Forest Service.

The authorization was soon thereafter granted by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for the logging exploitation of a 381 acre tract of Alaska's Tongass National Forest, which necessitated the building of seven (7) miles of roads in this otherwise roadless area.

The promise to "fight to protect roadless areas" was not fulfilled.
AG-12 The Promise: "...will develop domestic incentives that reward forest owners, farmers, and ranchers when they plant trees, restore grasslands, or undertake farming practices that capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere."
When/Where: Obama/Biden Plan: "Promoting a Healthy Environment" dated 10/08/08.
Status:Instructions to all federal agencies to improve the environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions were articulated in President Obama's 10/05/09 Executive Order 13514, replaced by Executive Order 13693 dated 03/19/15. However, these executive orders did not address any new domestic incentives for the capture of carbon dioxide applicable to individual forest owners, farmers and ranchers.

The Air Quality Initiative portion of the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) addressed in the 2014 Farm Bill, dubbed the "Agricultural Act of 2014" (H.R. 2642) and signed into law by President Obama on 02/07/14, provided assistance to farmers, ranchers etc. to (1) establish cover crops, (2) plant windbreak trees, (3) implement nutrient management practices, and (4) apply other conservation measures to reduce airborne particulate matter and greenhouse gases. None of these provisions were new when compared to previous farm bills.

This promise was not fulfilled.