Thinner Forests Mean Slower-Moving Fires

As firefighters continue to battle massive blazes in New Mexico and Colorado, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell is renewing his call to restore forests to a more natural state.

Tidwell's plan calls for accelerating restoration programs - everything from prescribed fire and mechanical thinning - by 20 percent each year in key areas that are facing the greatest danger of a catastrophic fire. He says a combination of decades of vigorous fire suppression and the waning of the timber industry over environmental concerns has left many forests subject to the kind of super-fires that are now regularly consuming hundreds of homes and millions of acres.

Tidwell tells The Associated Press that the plan calls for accelerating restoration programs by 20 percent each year in key areas that are facing the greatest danger of a catastrophic fire. Programs include prescribed fire and mechanical thinning.

This year's target is 4 million acres and the budget is about $1 billion.

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