Ducey asks Legislature to increase funding ahead of wildfire season

Feb 8, 2018, 4:24 AM
(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)...
(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

PHOENIX — In an effort to combat what is predicted to be a strong wildfire season, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is asking the state Legislature to increase wildfire prevention funding.

So far this winter, Phoenix has only received less than a half-inch of rain, ranking it as the fourth-driest on record. The average, for comparison, is 2.85 inches of rain by this time of year.

This lack of rain has fire officials worried that this year’s wildfire season could be more devastating than ever.

But Ducey is already taking steps to push back on any potential widespread damage.

The governor has asked the Legislature to increase the fiscal year 2019 funding.

This funding would proactively restore forests on federal and state lands, support Arizona’s post-release crew, strengthen partnerships to aid forest management and help make the state a good place for forest industries to do business, a press release said.

Ducey has also identified additional federal funding that could help the state out in the event of a strong wildfire season.

The Department of Forestry and Fire Management will work with state, local, and federal partners to use available funding in the Hazardous Vegetation Removal Program for this upcoming fiscal year.

In a statement, Ducey said Arizona needs to “commit to giving the Department of Forestry and Fire Management the tools they need to prevent and battle these catastrophic fires” after an unusually dry winter.

“Protecting lives, pets and property starts with proper preparation, and by working with state, local and federal partners, our goal is to minimize the impact of these fires to the best of our ability,” he said.

“Work is already underway to prepare for the fire season,” said State Forester Jeff Whitney.

“These resources are critical to that effort, especially given these dry conditions. We appreciate Governor Ducey and the Legislature’s continued support for fire management, and take this responsibility very seriously.”

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Ducey asks Legislature to increase funding ahead of wildfire season