State and feds commit to working together to manage public lands

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah- (ABC4 News) – It’s not a threat right now, but we all know how devastating wildfires can be in our state.

Governor Gary Herbert says it’s going to get better following what he calls an unprecedented agreement with the federal government.

In Utah, wildfire season seems to be getting longer and more destructive by the year.

“I think we have failed one another in many ways by not managing our forests for a healthy perspective,” said USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue.

That’s why the secretary and governor are saying it’s time to work together.

Wednesday, they signed off on the Agreement for Shared Stewardship between the state and Forest Service.

“This isn’t just an agreement, it’s a commitment to work together in a shared arrangement, a shared stewardship as co-owners, co-stewards of public lands,” said Perdue.

That includes a promise to work together to mitigate wildfire risk, conservation efforts, discussions on roadless rules and grazing rights, and engaging local communities.

“I think this responds to what we see now as an urgent and growing need to manage our forests more effectively,” said Herbert, (R) Utah.

The governor says this agreement creates an ongoing dialogue to meet unique needs of our state.

He says it’s a great step in getting ahead of the devastation.

“Demonstrate our willingness to work together for the good of the whole, for the good of all Americans, for the good of the people of Utah,” said Herbert.

The catastrophic Dollar Ridge Fire ripped through Representative Scott Chew’s district just last year.

He says he’s hopeful but will be watching closely for the next steps.

“There’s been a lot of talking going on, but there’s also been a lot of, where we haven’t been able to talk, so at least it’s a beginning and I would hope we get some action rather than just talk,” said Chew, (R) Jensen.

With this visit to Utah, Secretary Perdue has now visited all 50 states.

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