Bark Beetles Targeted For Wildfire Control

By Peter O'Dowd
Published: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 - 6:19am

The federal government announced plans Tuesday to keep forests in the Southwest from burning out of control. Getting a handle on the bark-beetle epidemic is at the center of the effort.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was in Denver on Tuesday. He said 94 national forests across the country will be designated as emergency insect and disease treatment areas.

As the overall climate warms, outbreaks of bark beetles have infested vast stands of trees and put them a greater risk of catching fire.

In Arizona, that includes up to 182,000 acres that are in danger.

The designation means the Forest Service can increase the pace and scale of restoration efforts.

Arizona’s senators praised the plan, but Jeff Flake did express some concern. He said the agency needs to remove bureaucratic hurdles and allow forest thinning companies to start working before fire season is over.

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