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Arizona State Forester Jeff Whitney Responds to Climate Central Report Card

Arizona State Forester Jeff Whitney Responds to Climate Central Report Card
November 30
11:30 2015

According to Arizona State Forester Jeff Whitney the state is in fact making great strides in its efforts to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire in Arizona.Climate central

“Unfortunately, the national forests within Arizona’s borders have suffered decades of mismanagement by the federal government,” said Whitney, “flawed forestry practices and a lack of a timber industry in our state have resulted in forests that are densely overgrown and prone to disease, insect infestation, and catastrophic wildfire.”

The State Forester went on to highlight positive steps taken by the federal government in recent years such as the White Mountain Stewardship Program which treated over 49,000 acres of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Eastern Arizona and the Four Forest Restoration Initiative which seeks to treat 50,000 acres per year over a 20 year span involving the Coconino, Kaibab, Apache-Sitgreaves, and Tonto National Forests.

In addition to federal efforts to mitigate the threat of catastrophic wildfire, the Arizona State Forester is engaged in efforts to encourage industry in northern Arizona that facilitates and makes forest treatment efforts economically feasible.

Arizona State Forestry provides for the prevention and suppression of wildland fire on 30 percent of the land within Arizona’s borders, managing firefighting aviation resources, training local responders in wildland fire fighting, and dispatching wildland fire fighters throughout the Western United States. During the 2015 fire season, we deployed engines and personnel to Alaska, California, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.

The Forester also administers a number of programs and federal grants that are designed to help communities and property owners mitigate wildfire risk such as NFPA’s Firewise Communities Program which teaches homeowners how to reduce the risk of wildfire to their property and Western Wildland Urban Interface Grants for the community and homeowner to aid in the reduction of hazardous fuels.

According to Whitney, “We can’t afford to do what needs to be done without industry involvement. The scale that we need to operate on is just too great without public/private partnerships. Solving Arizona’s forestry issues and protecting our soil, water, and air requires an all hands, all lands approach.”

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