Udall calls on Forest Service for fire safety efforts near urban areas
WASHINGTON – Summit County’s congressional representative is calling on the U.S. Forest Service to step up efforts to reduce wildfire dangers near communities and water supplies.
Rep. Mark Udall’s call to action came after a report showing only 38 percent of the lands treated in the Rocky Mountain region in 2002 were in those areas.
Forest areas close to urban areas are called “red zones.”
Udall, a Boulder Democrat, wrote Rocky Mountain National Forester Rick Cables, based in Lakewood, that he has “serious concern” only 38 percent of the total acres treated to reduce hazardous fuels were in red zones, also called the wildland urban interface.
Udall issued his concern while making it clear the Forest Service “is making progress in implementing the National Fire Plan with regard to wildfire suppression, the rehabilitation of burned areas and assisting communities.”
Udall’s worry, however, comes from the 38 percent figure contained in a report released by the U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Regional Office about its work under the National Fire Plan to date.
Only 26,840 acres out of a total of 70,172 acres were treated in red zones, Udall said.
Udall said this figure is a “trend in the right direction” considering that during the first year of implementing the fire plan, only 25 percent of the treated lands were in the interface.
But he said the National Fire Plan requires greater focus in the interface and urged forest officials to make these areas a higher priority.
“With the one-year anniversary of the start of the Hayman Fire, the evidence is clear – hazardous fuel reduction efforts should be focused on the areas that present the greatest and most immediate risk to homes, communities and people. In fact, the National Fire Plan requires it,” Udall said.
The full report can be found at http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/nfp.
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