USA – TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) – Arizona will have more boots on the ground to prevent wildfires under a bill signed today by Governor Doug Ducey.
The legislation creates a new partnership, employing Arizona inmates to clear forests of debris. The program says forests will be healthier and inmates will have new skills setting them up for employment once they are released. After the signing, the Governor reiterated the importance of the $24.5 million appropriation and looks forward to working with the Legislature to include this piece as part of a comprehensive budget package.
”As I shared in my State of the State address, guarding against wildfires is an important issue that requires a new strategy for the state. That new strategy of taking additional steps to reduce wildfire risk to Arizona communities is reflected in the Arizona Healthy Forest Initiative,” Governor Ducey said in a signing letter. ”I want to extend my gratitude to the sponsors of this legislation, Senator Kerr and Representative Griffin, and to all of the legislators supporting this critical mission. I am very pleased to sign Senate Bill 1442 today, and look forward to working with the legislature to complete the other necessary pieces of this ongoing effort to protect our forests and communities.”
Senate Bill (SB) 1442, the legislation signed today by the Governor, aims to prevent wildfires by allowing for additional partnerships to reduce the risk of wildfires on federal lands neighboring communities. The legislation aligns with the Arizona Healthy Forest Initiative, a $24.5 million proposal that builds on proven methods to protect communities, while engaging individuals in state correctional facilities to equip them with new skills and reduce recidivism.
Today’s signing comes a day after a wildfire caused the evacuation of about 100 people in the Tonto Basin and the closure of State Route 188. Arizona’s wildfire season runs from around May to July each year, destroying thousands of acres of land, devastating communities and risking the health of Arizonans.