USDA Forest Service

Forest Health Protection, Southern Region


USDA Forest Service
Forest Health Protection
Region 8
1720 Peachtree Road, NW
Room 816 N
Atlanta, GA 30309

Phone: (404) 347-7478
Fax: (404) 347-1880

United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

USDA Link Forest Service Link


Healthy Forest Initiative and Healthy
Forests Restoration Act


  • The Healthy Forests Initiative (HFI) was launched in August, 2002 by President Bush with the intent to reduce the risks severe wildfires pose to people, communities, and the environment. The Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA) of 2003 was passed as part of HFI administrative reforms and is the first major piece of forestry legislation affecting public lands since the 1970's.


  • The Southern Region created a Healthy Forests Regional Coordinator position on February 8, 2004 and assigned it to Jim Ehlers, Forest Health Protection (FHP) Unit.

  • The Region then created an Implementation Team, a Working Group, and established a group of Field Coordinators. Wes Nettleton is a member of the Implementation Team and Don Duerr is a member of the Working Group. Jim Ehlers is a member of both.

  • On March 3, 2004 the Regional Healthy Forests Restoration Strategy was completed. The strategy established a regional goal, critical success factors, an action plan, and a performance plan.
  • In FY 2004, the Southern Region treated a record 1,174,000 acres of hazardous fuels, with 987,000 in the Wildland-urban interface (WUI). Also in FY 2004 the Region awarded 16 stewardship contracts for a total of 5,482 acres. In addition five stewardship contract training sessions were conducted, reaching over 270 employees.

  • In FY 2005, the Southern Region has a 955,000 acre target for hazardous fuels and an 186,000 acre target for mechanical treatments. To date, the Region has accomplished 46% of the fuels treatment target and 7% of the mechanical treatment target.

  • An Integrated Vegetation Treatment 5 Year Action Plan for each national forest field unit was recently completed as part of implementing the Region's Healthy Forests Restoration Strategy. These plans will help the units strategically plan their vegetation treatment schedules to achieve healthy forests objectives.

  • The Region is collaborating with the Southern Research Station on several silvicultural assessment projects using the authorities in HFRA Title IV. These projects include: Red-oak borer in the Ozark and Ouachita National Forests in Arkansas; gypsy moth and oak decline in the Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky, and southern pine beetle in the National Forests in Texas as well as in the Kisatchie and Ouachita National Forests.

  • In FY 2004, the Southern Region FHP Program included suppression and prevention efforts as well as the restoration of lands impacted by native and nonnative invasive species for a wide range of projects:

    • Southern pine beetle: In FY 2004 the FHP program provided $7 million to carry out SPB prevention treatments on 46,000 acres of state and private lands, and $4 million to implement SPB prevention treatments on 25,000 acres of national forest land. In FY 2005 FHP is providing $10 million to support prevention and restoration work on state and private lands, and $4 million for national forest lands. These prevention efforts typically improve fire condition class and enhance wildlife habitat as well.

    • Red oak borer: Suppression and prevention efforts were funded in Arkansas, where roughly 3,000 acres of red oak borer prevention treatments were carried out in FY 2004 in the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests.

  • In FY 2005, FHP worked with the Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests to submit a successful bid for a national Integrated Landscape Design to Maximize Fuel Treatment Effectiveness Request for Proposals.

  • In FY 2004 and 2005 FHP networked a lot of information on biomass utilization efforts to the National Forests and management units.

  • In FY 2005 a draft paper on HFRA and State forester roles was developed. Also a paper was developed to simplify the various definitions of the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) and another paper developed in FY 2004 to aid field resource managers with understanding HFI and HFRA.

  • In FY 2005 a new Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center (EFETAC) is being established as part of the Agency's program under the Healthy Forest Restoration Act of 2003. The Center will be located in Asheville, North Carolina and will be a part of a network of early warning activities established by the Forest Service nationwide. EFETAC will focus on providing science and technology for early detection and assessment of environmental threats such as invasive insects, diseases, or plants so that managers can take early, decisive action to stop or mitigate the identified problem. The focus of the Center will be on the entire eastern United States. The program will have an emphasis on threats to hardwood forests, but will also include threats to conifers. The program will include a focus on modeling and remote sensing and other early warning techniques. A key part of the program will be the delivery of this knowledge to managers and the public in ways that are user friendly and accessible.

Future direction

  • Continue the current focus on the Healthy Forests Restoration Strategy goal of achieving "A fully integrated, active, and progressive land management program that emphasizes healthy, sustainable forests and rangelands across the Southern Region…"

  • Continue efforts to increase the use of HFI and HFRA authorities.


FHP Contacts:

Jim Ehlers
Forest Service-USDA
1720 Peachtree Road, NW, Suite 862 S
Atlanta, GA 30309
Phone: 404-347-7212

USDA Forest Service - Forest Health Protection, Southern Region
Last Modified: Monday, 16 December 2013 at 14:18:28 CST

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