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NW Life

Western Governors Discuss Wildfire Risks, Prevention

Western state governors are meeting this weekend in Phoenix, Arizona to talk about issues of mutual interest. Among other things, the group discussed a report outlining risks of wildfire, and what states can do in the near term to deal with wildfire threats.

Ann Walker is the Forest Health Program Director with the Western Governors’ Association.

“States have been talking about accelerated forest restoration. The states work very closely with their federal partners  and local community members to identify priority projects that benefit folks that live in the wildland-urban interface, as well as in the expanded areas on federal land.”

Last year, the U.S. Forest Service approved $40 million dollars in spending on collaborative restorations, including $2.5 million dollars in the Malheur National Forest, and $3.5 million in the Lakeview area.

Walker says it’s important that states gather partners together to forge agreement on priority projects.

Western governors are also trying to keep an eye on funding for fire management. Congress raided accounts set up to fund fire response services during the debate over the federal debt ceiling. While some of the money was restored, a few states had to borrow from other projects like fire prevention to cover firefighting costs.