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Nov 9, 2012 9:16 AM by Garrett Boyd

Senators urge USDA action to curb wildfire risk

DENVER (AP) - Senators from Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota are encouraging federal officials to use the timber industry to help thin forests prone to wildfires, like ones that raged across their states this summer.

In a letter Thursday to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the senators said overgrown forests, drought, vast stretches of trees killed by beetles, and more people living in fire zones have left the West at a critical juncture. They expressed support for thinning more acres near critical infrastructure and in areas where urban areas are up against forests. The senators also urged Vilsack to prioritize timber sales.

The letter was signed by Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet of Colorado; Mike Enzi and John Barrasso of Wyoming; and Tim Johnson and John Thune of South Dakota.

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