20 May 2008, 8:06pm
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Rey: Better management lowers costs of firefighting

BY PAMELA J. PODGER of the Missoulian

In a broad-ranging address Saturday to the Montana Logging Association stretching from the farm bill to the next president, U.S. Undersecretary of Agriculture Mark Rey said better forestry management is helping slow the escalating costs of suppressing wildfires.

He said firefighting accounted for about 14 percent of the U.S. Forest Service budget in the 1970s, and accelerated to about 50 percent today.

“We’re not going to stop fighting fires,” he said. “But the rate of the increase is slowing because we’re fighting fires that were treated with forest-reduction measures.”

He said the fuels reduction, thinning and other actions will continue to help as Congress also seeks alternatives for funding the costs of fighting fires in the nation and ways to alleviate the pressure on the U.S. Forest Service. … [more]



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