AUSTIN, TX, OCTOBER 17, 2011 AT 2:30 PM EDT - Tom Harbour, director of the U.S. Forest Service’s fire and aviation management efforts, today reiterated his agency’s commitment to a cooperative working relationship with the Texas Forest Service.
“The Texas Forest Service is one of the most highly skilled and experienced wildland firefighting agencies in the United States,” Harbour declared. “We have a long and successful partnership with our friends in Texas and we are proud to assist them in their monumental battle against this season’s wildfires.”
Harbour’s comments came in testimony before a field hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management held here.
This year to date, the U.S. Forest Service has filled more than 10,000 personnel requests and 600 requests for equipment to assist wildfire operations in Texas. Equipment provided has included dozers, engines and water tenders. Among the personnel sent have been firefighting crews, interagency incident management teams and support staff. The Forest Service also has provided aircraft support, including helicopters, airtankers and fixed-wing aircraft.
The U.S. Forest Service has cooperative forest management programs with the Texas Forest Service that provide funds to the state in support of its fire management capacity.
Dozens of federal wildfire intelligence specialists have been sent to Texas to provide fire weather forecasts, predict fire behavior, analyze wildland fuel conditions, study National Fire Danger Rating components, and model wildfire growth Harbour said.
The U.S. Forest Service has direct responsibility for 675,000 acres of land in Texas. During this fire season 175 fires burned on 3,651 acres of that land. In contrast 3,194 fires have burned 2,876,126 acres of state and private land in the state.