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Biden administration launches 'comprehensive response' to wildfires

By Doug Cunningham
1/5
Biden administration launches 'comprehensive response' to wildfires
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack responds to a question from the news media during a press briefing on food pricing at the White House in Washington, DC on September 8, 2021. Pool Photo by Shawn Thew/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 19 (UPI) -- The Biden administration plans to use $3 billion over 10 years from the bipartisan infrastructure law to launch a comprehensive response to a worsening U.S. wildfires crisis.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement Tuesday the new strategy seeks to "significantly increase fuels and forest health treatments to address the escalating crisis of wildfire danger threatening millions of acres and numerous communities across the United States."

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To implement the new strategy, the U.S. Forest Service will work with other federal agencies and tribes, states, local communities and private landowners.

The plan, called Confronting The Wildfire Crisis, said work will aim to "engineer a paradigm shift by focusing fuels and forest health treatments more strategically and at the scale of the problem, using the best available science as the guide."

Over 10 years, the plan would treat up to 20 million more acres on National Forest System lands. Another 30 million acres will be treated on other federal, state, tribal and private lands.

A long-term plan for forest management would also be developed.

Many states have had record wildfires in the past 20 years. The report said fires larger than 100,000 acres have become so common that the National Interagency Fire Center has stopped tracking them as exceptional events.

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Scenes from California's Caldor Fire

Roseville firefighter Kirk Steven sprays down a tree as he allows fuel to be burned off next to a cabin during the Caldor Fire near Meyers, Calif., on Tuesday. Photo by Peter DaSilva/UPI | License Photo

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