Governor Herbert announces millions in funding to mitigate wildfire risk

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah- (ABC4 News) – State and federal leaders are putting their money where their mouth is in an effort to combat catastrophic wildfires.

The wildfire season is here and it’s already an active one.

“We have about 350 total fires in the state, all jurisdictions, right now to this point,” said Brian Cottam with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.

This comes on the heels of a very costly 2018.

“For all of the agencies combined in the state of Utah it cost about $150 million dollars, which is more than three times, you know, the typical state average,” said Governor Gary Herbert, (R) Utah.

That’s why the state is teaming up with the Department of Agriculture.

Governor Herbert and Secretary Sonny Purdue signed the Shared Stewardship Agreement back in May, 2019.

Tuesday, the governor announced $20 million in funding over the next four years.

The goal is to work together to mitigate the risk to our forest lands and watershed.

“This is kind of Utah’s moon shot for better managing our national forests, and it’s extremely exciting,” said Cottam.

Two projects will get things started.

The Canyons Project, which covers the Manti-La Sal National Forest, and the Upper Provo River Project.

Others will follow.

“We are going to use every tool in our toolbox to address the threat to our communities. And so, yes, it involves additional logging, additional prescribed burning, additional work on the ground,” said Mary Farnsworth with the U.S. Forest Service.

The vast majority of wildfires are human-caused and preventable, so the agreement also includes education outreach to remind all of us we play a role.

The governor says he’s also still hoping for some modifications to the roadless rule as well, which limits access to certain conservation areas.

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Glen Mills

Chief Political Correspondent

 Glen is honored to be delivering the news of the day every weeknight at 5, 6, and 10 in his home state. He is an award-winning veteran journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team as a weekend anchor in June 2013. Over the years, he held various positions at the station as he worked his way up to the main anchor chair. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent and hosts Inside Utah Politics, which airs every Sunday. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...