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07/08/2009

New Study Shows Need to Focus Fire Suppression Efforts on Protecting Communities First

A recent report shows that of the 44,000 fuel reduction projects in the Western U.S. under Bush's National Fire Plan in the past 5 years, only 3 percent were actually in the wildland-urban interface, the critical areas surrounding communities.  This finding reinforces what the Sierra Club has been saying all along, that the Forest Service needs to make protecting communities first the top priority of any fire policy.  A summary of the report is available here.

Unfortunately, instead of prioritizing areas immediately around communities, the Bush administration often used fire prevention as an excuse to open backcountry forest to the timber industry.  We are now paying the price with more at-risk communities and less resilient forests.  It's time now to use our federal firefighting resources wisely and to focus on keeping homes and communities safe.

As the study shows, much of the wildland-urban interface across the country is privately owned, so we must also continue to work with the Forest Service to better educate the public what areas are at-risk and what you can do to better fire-proof your home and property.

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