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Letter to the Secretary of Agriculture in Response to Report on Management Improvements in the Forest Service.

August 10, 1966

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I appreciate your report on the steps that have been taken and are under way to improve the management and the effectiveness of the several vital programs administered by the Forest Service.

Historically, the Forest Service has been an outstanding leader in management. The further actions set forth in your letter indicate clearly that the Forest Service and you intend to do everything possible to maintain this well-earned reputation.

I am particularly pleased with the broad range of the management actions in the Forest Service. These include: improved cooperation with State and private forestry programs; strengthening of field organizations; greater use of private investment and initiative in meeting public needs, and improved financial management. These are several of the major management objectives on which I place particular importance and the ones I expect all agencies to achieve.

Mr. Secretary, I wish to commend you for the support you have given to the Joint Management Review Program. As you know, I have encouraged all departments and agencies to take advantage of this program. One of the surest ways of achieving and maintaining excellence is by self-evaluation, criticism, and improvement. Again, let me commend you and the Forest Service for both your approach to improved management and for the excellent results you are achieving.

Sincerely,

LYNDON B. JOHNSON

[Honorable Orville L. Freeman, Secretary of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 20250]

Note: Secretary Freeman's report, in the form of a letter to the President, was also made public by the White House. It is printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 2, p. 1044).

The report followed the completion in July 1965 of a joint review, initiated by the Department, but carried out with the cooperation of the Bureau of the Budget and the Civil Service Commission. Highlights of management actions to which the President referred include the following:

"Strengthen cooperative forestry programs applied to State and private lands. This major program activity assists the States to protect forests from wildfire and pests, produce and distribute seedlings, and help private landowners practice good forest land management. It is an outstanding example of the public benefits that result when the concept of creative Federalism is applied. As a result of the Management Review, regional leadership now flows from two new area offices established to serve the 33 States in the East and the South ....

"Consolidate regional headquarters offices. Two major regional offices were closed--one for National Forest administration and one for Research--with savings of $768,000 in annual recurrent costs and $579,000 in nonrecurrent costs ....

"Stimulate maximum use of concessionaires, contractors, and cooperative agreements in meeting public demands for outdoor recreation opportunities on the National Forest System. Current use of these public lands for recreational purposes approximates 150 million visits per year ....
"Streamline accounting systems. A recommendation for simplified procedures is estimated to save over a million dollars annually ....

"Consolidate irregular ownership pattern and complete boundary surveys. There are about 281,000 miles of National Forest boundary lines. Consolidation will reduce costs of locating and maintaining boundaries .... The potential cost avoidance over time could be as much as $200,000,000."

Lyndon B. Johnson, Letter to the Secretary of Agriculture in Response to Report on Management Improvements in the Forest Service. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/239210

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