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Electric bus movement looks to accelerate; Macron says he has not ruled out using Western troop to help Ukraine stand-up to Russia; two rural Iowa newspapers saved from extinction; BLM announces added protections for sensitive Oregon landscape.

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Speaker Johnson commits to avoiding a government shutdown. Republican Senators call for a trial of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. And a Democratic Senator aims to ensure protection for IVF nationwide.

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David meets Goliath in Idaho pesticide conflict, to win over Gen Z voters, candidates are encouraged to support renewable energy and rural America needs help from Congress to continue affordable internet programs.

Forest Service Hits Reverse on Firefighting Policy

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013   

BOISE, Idaho - For decades, the U.S. Forest Service let small fires in remote areas burn naturally in recognition that fire was part of the natural landscape - and that by letting some fires burn, future large fires could be prevented. Last year, however, every fire was battled unless granted special status.

That's been recognized as part of the reason the Forest Service spent more than $1 billion fighting fires in 2012.

Now, the agency is taking the "fight all fires" directive off the books.

Jonathan Oppenheimer, senior conservation associate at the Idaho Conservation League, said plenty of science and economic sense are behind the decision.

"Putting out every single fire is not good for firefighter safety, it's not good for the environment, and it's not good for the bottom line and the taxpayers," he said.

The forest official who required that all fires be suppressed in 2012 had a goal of keeping all fires small.

Oppenheimer said the history of letting some fires burn got its start in Idaho with a fire in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness being allowed to burn in 1972 - the first time the Forest Service had made such a decision. The Gem State is home to millions of acres of backcountry.

"We've got a huge 4 1/2 million, 5 million-acre wildland complex in central Idaho," he said, "where it simply doesn't make sense to be putting firefighters' lives at risk to go and put out small fires."

Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell issued the decision on the policy shift for the upcoming fire season.



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