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In 2002, as part of the Healthy Forests Initiative, President Bush asked Congress to enact long-term stewardship contracting authority for the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. The Congress granted this authority, allowing contractors to keep wood products in exchange for completing forest health restoration work such as thinning trees, removing brush and dead wood, stabilizing streambanks, and improving wildlife habitat. Long-term contracts foster a public/private partnership to restore forest and rangeland health by providing an incentive to private sector investment in equipment and infrastructure needed to productively use material generated from forest thinning (such as brush and other woody biomass) to make wood products or to produce biomass energy, all at tremendous savings to taxpayers. The bureaus will sign about 80 stewardship contracts covering nearly 60,000 acres in FY 2004.
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