Obama targets climate change in wildfire strategy

The Obama administration released a comprehensive strategy document Wednesday aimed at reducing wildfires, which it says are being exacerbated by climate change.

The strategy recommends preventive measures like controlled burns, municipal and state zoning to reduce the effects of sprawl and incorporating watersheds into local management plans.

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“Through more strategic coordination with local communities, the National Cohesive Strategy will help us better protect 46 million homes in 70,000 communities from catastrophic wildfires,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, whose department includes the United States Forest Service.

“This effort … will allow USDA and our partners to more effectively restore forested landscapes, treat forests for the increasing effects of climate change, and help avert future wildfires.”

“As climate change spurs extended droughts and longer fire seasons, this collaborative wildfire blueprint will help us restore forests and rangelands to make communities less vulnerable to catastrophic fire,” said Mike Boots, acting chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality.

Reducing wildfires is part of the Climate Action Plan, Obama’s policy agenda for preventing and mitigating climate change. Climate change causes more droughts, longer fire seasons, more insect infestation in trees and greater fire spread, all of which make wildfires more serious, the administration said.

Areas in Arizona and Georgia have already successfully implemented the processes outlined in Obama’s strategy, according to the administration.