McInnis, colleagues look to reduce the threat of wildfires

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— Congressman Scott McInnis sought a remedy Friday to last summer's fire season in the ashes of the largest wildfire of 2002.

The Grand Junction Republican met with other House members in Flagstaff, Ariz., at the site of the 468,000-acre Rodeo-Chediski fire to discuss ways to reduce the threat of wildfires to the nation's forests and communities

"Inaction on this issue will only intensify the wildfire threat faced by our nation's forests and communities," McInnis said. "The question now is, are we willing to solve this problem or are we going to watch our forests literally go up in smoke?"

McInnis chairs the House Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health. He chose to conduct Friday's hearing in an area destroyed by flames to give his colleagues a firsthand look at the devastating effects of wildfire. Flagstaff is an example of the growing problem of urban areas jutting up against unhealthy forests.

The Rodeo-Chediski fire, which burned for almost three weeks, was the biggest fire in Southwest history.

The hearing gave lawmakers an opportunity to look at plans that would give land managers authority to improve forest health.

McInnis has said his top priority this legislative session is to push a plan that would reduce the risk of wildfire through the House.

"It's time to let a little common sense guide us on how to stop this threat now by empowering our land managers -- the experts -- with the tools to do their job," he said.

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