Kempthorne: Fire policy increasingly emphasizes “wildland-urban interface”

Kempthorne: Fire policy increasingly emphasizes “wildland-urban interface”

21 August 2007

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Increasingly, the Bush administration wildfire policy focuses on areas where people, structures and fire fuel are in close proximity, U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said today in an interview with the IBR.

Kempthorne, this month based at the Idaho state office of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Boise, said the Bush administration since 2001 has spent about $600 million a year on its Healthy Forests Initiative.

“Initially it was more random. Now it is at least 60 percent aimed at the wildland-urban interface,” he said.

Kempthorne recently toured the Angora Fire in the Lake Tahoe area. The fire has destroyed structures, but firefighters succeeded in protecting structures in a number of areas, he said.

Also on that trip, U.S. Senators from Nevada and California met with Kempthorne to discuss the prospect of removing more timber from federal forests.

When Kempthorne was Idaho governor (January 1999-May 2007) and a member of the state land board, a bug-infested tree on Idaho-owned land could be removed, he said.

“It’s much more difficult on federal land,” he said.

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