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Resources Field Hearing Will Study California Wildfire Recovery, Environmental Restoration

"Catastrophic wildfire is one of the single greatest threats to our environment today," -- Chairman Richard W. Pombo


WASHINGTON (December 3) - Just two days after President Bush signed the Healthy Forests Restoration Act into law, House Resources Committee Chairman Richard W. Pombo (R-CA) will lead the first congressional field investigation of the widespread destruction caused by massive wildfires that consumed California in October.


The wildfires in Southern California burned over 739,000 total acres of National Forest, California State Forest, Tribal land, and private land.  Alarmingly, 26 people lost their lives as a result of the fires and 3,631 homes were destroyed.   There was a total loss of 4,676 structures of which 3,631 were homes, 36 were commercial structures, and 1,169 were outbuildings.  Almost one third of the burned acreage, 238,680 acres, was on National Forest lands. Five large fires, the Paradise, Padua, Old, Grand Prix and Cedar fires were located on the Angeles, San Bernardino, Los Padres and Cleveland National Forests.  The Forest Service has spent over $80 million to suppress these fires.


Additionally, 10 tribes in Southern California were adversely impacted by the wildfires.  The San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians lost 67 of 68 homes.  On the San Manuel reservation, 98 percent of the vegetation was destroyed.


***For a background briefing paper on the California fires and their aftermath, including air and water quality and rehabilitation efforts, click here.***


WHAT:           Field Hearing: "Recovering from the Fires: Restoring and Protecting Communities Water, Wildlife and Forests in


WHEN:           11:00 a.m. on Friday, December 5, 2003

WHERE:        Lake Arrowhead Resort Ballroom

                        27984 Highway 189

                        Lake Arrowhead, CA

WHO:              House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA)

                        Rep. George Radanovich (R-CA)

                        Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR)

                        Rep. Mary Bono (D-CA)

                        Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA)

                        Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA)

                        Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA)

                        Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA)

Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA)

WITNESSES:  Dale Bosworth, U.S. Forest Service Chief

                        Mike Chrisman, California Resources Secretary

                        Jack Blackwell, Regional Forester, Pacific SW Region

                        Anne Kinsinger, USGS Regional Biologist, Western Region

                        Chips Barry, Denver Water Board Director

                        Peter Brierty, County of San Bernardino Fire Marshall

                        Thomas Bonnicksen, Ph.D., Texas A&M University

                        Department of Forest Science

                        Anthony Pico, Viejas Tribal Chairman

                        Scott Stephens, UC Berkeley Assistant Professor of Fire Science






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