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Wildfire Prevention Budget Cuts May Burn WYO

March 30, 2007


Wyoming could soon feel the burn because a program that helps pay for thinning trees and brush to reduce fire risk is at risk in the federal budget. The State Fire Assistance program has the strong support of the Western Governors Association and National Association of Counties because it helps prevent big wildfires that cost billions to fight. Chris Mehl with The Wilderness Society says it's a cost-effective program on several levels.

"We're also going to save a lot of anguish and harm, whether it's your house not burning down, or not putting firefighters at risk this summer. Those are admirable goals."

The Administration wants to cut the fire prevention program by 15 percent, as part of overall Forest Service budget cuts. Mehl notes state foresters have recommended increasing fire prevention treatments, which he says costs very little compared to fighting a major wildfire.

"It's just appalling that they're talking about cutting this program, because you're basically saying we're going to cut now and save money, but you're going to cost all of us so much more down the road."

More information online at www.wflccenter.org.

Deborah Smith/Eric Mack, Public News Service - WY