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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