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’Tis the Season — Again: Wildfires & Mounting Pressure

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Vicki Christiansen is the head of the U.S. Forest Service. She said the Forest Service is going to do brush clearing, forest thinning, prescribed burns and other measures on 3.5 million of the department’s 80 million acres of forest.

While most of that clearing will take place in the West, Christiansen admits it is just not going to be enough. Millions of acres of forest land — she said — will be ripe for the kind of catastrophic wildfires like the one that destroyed most of Paradise, California last year. “When you look nationwide there's not any place that we're really at a fire season. Fire season is not an appropriate term anymore,” Christiansen said.

On top of the thinning and other preventative tools, President Trump has ordered an active forest management policy. He wants to see more logging on federal lands. The order fell on deaf ears as environmentalists say that’s not really going to reduce the risk of fire.

Christiansen has defended the president’s decision. She said, “We are certainly focused on the timber outputs, but that is only one of the critical measures. We are tracking with laser focus our hazardous fuels reduction and our watershed health and restoration as well.”

In spite of all that, Christiansen predicts the Forest Service will spend $2.5 billion or more to fight wildfires. The current budget is $1.7 billion so money will have to be transferred from elsewhere in the Forest Service coffers to pay firefighters.

That is if they can find enough of them.

Source link: NPR

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