Governor Doug Ducey recently announced he’ll ask Arizona lawmakers to nearly double spending for wildfire prevention. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, it comes as forest managers are preparing for an early fire season.
Ducey’s $2 million request would go toward thinning projects and other hazardous vegetation removal on 22 million acres of state land. The funds, if approved by the legislature, would be available at the beginning of the next fiscal year in July.
"Hope here isn’t a strategy. It’s about having a plan and being prepared. You have to have flexibility when you’re managing a crisis but this is one that we’re anticipating and if it passes us by, all the better. If it’s here we’ll be ready," says Ducey.
Ducey says the state has also secured $640,000 in federal funding this year to thin U.S. Forest Service land in the state.
Officials with the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management say wildfire danger is already high in many areas, and they’ll hire seasonal employees a month early this year.
According to the Department of Agriculture, snowpack is 36 percent of normal on the San Francisco Peaks, and 14 percent of median throughout the state.