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Biden Administration Announces Strategic Plan to Combat US Wildfires

On Tuesday, the Biden administration announced a 10-year plan for treating and maintaining millions of acres of forest in the western United States to reduce the intensity of seasonal wildfires.

“We’re not going to stop fires,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said at a press event in Arizona alongside Forest Service Chief Randy Moore. “But what we can do is begin the process of reducing the catastrophic nature of those fires.”

According to a report, the plan, known as the wildfire crisis strategy, aims to make 50 million acres (20 million hectares) of forests more resilient and healthier to fires with treatments like pruning, thinning, or prescribed burns.

Wildfire seasons have gotten worse across the United States in recent years due to decades of federal policy to quickly put out wildfires instead of letting some continue burning in a controlled manner, leading to the accumulation of flammable brush.

Climate change has also led to hotter, drier conditions across the American West, making fires more frequent and the brush more flammable.

According to a report, the U.S. Forest Service has historically treated up to 2 million acres yearly in the western United States.

Under the new program, the Forest Service, along with the Department of the Interior and other partners, will manage up to 20 million more acres of National Forest System land and up to 30 million more acres of additional federal, state, tribal, or private land across the west of United States over the next ten years.

The top priority will be parts of Arizona, Colorado, California, Oregon, and Washington, which are at the highest risk of wildfires.

The effort, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated will result in thousands of new jobs, will begin by utilizing nearly $3 billion of funding from the infrastructure law. However, according to a USDA official, it will require an additional $50 billion to reach the 50 million-acre target.

A 2020 record revealed wildfire season destroyed more than 10 million acres in the United States, about half of which was Forest Service land. The Forest Service is part of the USDA.


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