1. #1
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    Post Arizona Preparedness

    TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Federal and state officials expect to have
    enough equipment and firefighters on hand this year - and hope for
    the best from Mother Nature - to avoid a replay of the devastating
    2002 fire season.
    The state's fire preparedness budget - expected to be about $37
    million for the second straight year - will cover expenses for 80
    fire engines and 790 firefighters, including 10 Hotshot crews,
    which are specially trained to fight fires in the most rugged
    terrain, officials said. Additional resources can also be made
    available.
    Arizona's six national forests will be rehiring the same crews
    that saw extensive action in 2002, said Jim Payne, a Phoenix-based
    spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service's Southwest Regional Office.
    Arizona officials also are counting on another $12 million
    available for prescribed fires, grants and state initiatives for
    forest health and post-fire rehab and restoration projects, Payne
    said.
    Last year, 3,218 fires charred 629,876 acres in Arizona. Most of
    the damage was done by the Rodeo-Chediski fire, the largest in
    state history, which seared 469,000 acres and destroyed 467 homes
    in eastern Arizona. In all, 21 fires accounted for 97 percent of
    total acres burned.
    National fire officials expect a less severe fire season this
    time, but a combination of long-term drought, high temperatures,
    vegetation killed by insects and disease and low snowpack at middle
    elevations will push the fire danger level in some areas of Arizona
    to above average.
    Then there's the fact that most fires are started by people.
    "If we could cut in half the number of people-caused fires, it
    would make a huge difference in the number of fires and the number
    of acres burned," said Deputy State Forester Kirk Rowdabaugh.
    A major difference in resources will be a drop in the number of
    large aerial tankers stationed in Arizona, from five last year to
    two this season. The tankers are used to drop fire retardant slurry
    to help keep wildland fires from advancing.
    Both aircraft, a DC-6 in Prescott and a P-3 in Winslow, are
    expected to be available this month, said Rose Davis, a spokeswoman
    for the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.
    Fewer large aerial tankers will be available this year overall
    in the nation because of two fatal plane crashes last year. More
    helicopters capable of dropping retardant or water will be used to
    fill the gap. Federal officials will also contract for smaller
    tankers.
    "Aerial tankers are an asset, but they only account for about
    10 percent of our fire suppression effort," Davis said. "Most of
    the work is done on the ground."
    The fire season is expected to begin with more grass and brush
    fires because winter and spring precipitation produced normal
    spring growth that will dry out and turn into fuel by late spring
    and early summer.
    The interagency fire center projects that major fires will be
    greater than usual from May to the start of the summer monsoon
    season.
    The Southwest Coordination Center in Albuquerque, N.M., predicts
    that fire could reach extreme levels at elevations below 8,500 feet
    in the coming month.
    "The critical thing will be in the next month, as fires start
    to occur in the timbered areas of the state," Payne said.
    ---
    On the Net:
    National Interagency Fire Center: http://www.nifc.gov/
    Southwest Area Wildland Fire Operations:
    http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/fire/

    (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

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    Post

    TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Campers and outdoor enthusiasts will find
    improved conditions in Arizona this Memorial Day weekend, forest
    and wildland officials say.
    A year ago, most people who traditionally head to the hills,
    mountains, lakes or other camping retreats for Memorial Day found
    themselves grounded, with fire restrictions and forest closures
    before the holiday weekend.
    This year, all the forests are open, although officials on four
    - the Apache-Sitgreaves, Coronado, Tonto and Prescott - have
    imposed camp fire and smoking restrictions.
    Despite that scenario, "we're better off now than we were last
    year at this time," said Prescott forest spokesman Devin Wanner.
    Seasonal fire restrictions are also in effect for campgrounds on
    2.5 million acres controlled by the federal Bureau of Land
    Management and four national Fish and Wildlife refuges between Yuma
    and Lake Havasu along the Colorado River. They bar campfires or
    wood stoves and severely restrict smoking.
    Because of cooler and wetter conditions across much of the
    state's two northernmost forests, officials don't plan on imposing
    fire restrictions on the Coconino and Kaibab forests for the
    weekend.
    "We're expecting a lot of visitors this Memorial Day weekend
    because the weather is finally starting to get nice in northern
    Arizona," said spokeswoman Raquel Poturalski. "Last year on
    Memorial Day weekend, two-thirds of the Coconino forest was
    closed."
    Officials at all six Arizona national forests are expecting
    heavy turnout, which has outfitters and merchants of outdoors gear
    optimistic.
    "People have a pent-up demand and I'm sure they're going to be
    out and about in force," said Bob Hart, a salesman at Aspen Sports
    in Flagstaff.
    A late, cold spring in northern Arizona may have initially
    pinched sales, he said, but "with the warm weather comes the idea
    that maybe we have to go buy the backpack and new shoes.
    "For the most part, whether the numbers reflect it or not, I
    think it's going to be a pretty good Memorial weekend and summer in
    general," he said.
    Still, forest officials are warning people to be wary.
    "The majority of fires we have are from abandoned or improperly
    put-out campfires," said Jim Payne, a spokesman for the
    interagency Southwest Coordination Center, headquartered in
    Albuquerque, N.M.
    People must fully extinguish a fire by smothering it with water
    and dirt, making sure it is cold to the touch, he said.
    Coronado fire management officer Dean McAlister said late winter
    and early spring moisture meant no early repeat of the explosive
    fire behavior seen during last year's devastating fire season, but
    recent fires show fire activity is picking up.
    He said conditions would deteriorate in June into burning
    conditions similar to 2002 because of the prolonged drought.
    "The effects of the moisture will have worn off and we'll start
    seeing some aggressive fire behavior," McAlister said.
    ---
    On the Net:
    Arizona Forests: http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/forests/az.html
    Bureau of Land Management-Arizona: http://www.az.blm.gov/
    Fire Information: http://azfireinfo.com

    (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

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    Post State of Emergency Declared

    PHOENIX (AP) - Gov. Janet Napolitano declared an emergency
    Thursday because of the drought and the threat of wildfires, a move
    intended to bring in federal money for tree thinning to protect
    forest communities.
    The state is seeking $232 million to clear brush and smaller
    trees from more than 230,000 acres of federal, tribal, state and
    private lands in and around the most threatened communities and
    utility and transportation corridors, Napolitano said.
    The fire threat has been elevated by a drought-related bark
    beetle epidemic that has killed or caused irreparable damage to
    800,000 acres of trees, she said.
    During her flights around the state, Napolitano said, "you
    can't help but see ridge after ridge after ridge that the bark
    beetle has infested."
    Napolitano said she is asking the state's congressional
    delegation to urge President Bush to release the federal dollars.
    "We don't have moments to spare," she said. "We hope that the
    federal government will move with alacrity."
    Asked for comment on Napolitano's request, U.S. Rep. Rick Renzi,
    R-Ariz., released a statement saying he had helped secure $8.5
    million for forest work and that he would pursue more federal
    dollars.
    Renzi's 1st Congressional District includes most of Arizona's
    forests.
    Napolitano acknowledged that the 2003 fire season is already
    beginning and that most of any thinning financed by the federal
    money wouldn't be done in time for this year.
    She noted she held a March forest summit to help prepare an
    action plan but said her office didn't want to act too quickly on
    the emergency declaration without ensuring that it would not be
    "an empty gesture."
    Napolitano also acknowledged there is continuing debate about
    the merits of removing trees of varying sizes as part of
    fire-prevention efforts. But she said there is a consensus about
    removing smaller trees and brush near urban areas.
    Arizona has only a shadow of its former logging industry, but
    Napolitano said the use of portable sawmills are among options that
    would be considered to handle the thinning.
    Several local officials from forested areas of the state
    attended the signing ceremony. One said the move was overdue.
    "We wish it had been sooner but we're just thankful it's just
    happening now," Graham County Supervisor Mark Herrington said.
    "We hold our breath whenever there's a bolt of lightning."
    Herrington said it took last year's devastating Rodeo-Chediski
    Fire to focus attention on the problem.
    The Rodeo-Chediski fire, the largest wildfire in Arizona
    history, charred 469,000 acres and destroyed 467 homes.
    Six counties - Apache, Cochise, Gila, Graham, Greenlee and
    Navajo - and a handful of municipalities have issued similar
    proclamations that seek state assistance, the governor's office
    said.
    Napolitano also signed orders establishing two new councils,
    both of which she announced in April. One will develop a
    "science-based approach" to fuel reduction efforts and promote
    markets for small-diameter trees. The other will oversee
    implementation.
    Sierra Club lobbyist Sandy Bahr welcomed Napolitano's moves.
    "What we need to focus on, because there is limited amount of
    money, limited amount of time, is trying to protect communities,
    trying to educate people about what they can do to protect their
    own homes," Bahr said.
    ---
    On the Net:
    Governor's Office: http://www.governor.state.az.us

    (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Last edited by NJFFSA16; 05-23-2003 at 03:59 AM.
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

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