Fact Sheet: President Clinton: Taking Action to Ease the Threat of Wildfires (8/8/00)
                              August 8, 2000

Today,   President  Clinton,  joined  by  Agriculture  Secretary  Glickman,
Interior  Secretary  Babbitt,  and  Army  Secretary Caldera, will travel to
McCall, Idaho to survey areas ravaged by wildfires and commend firefighters
on   their  tireless  efforts.   The  President  will  issue  an  Executive
Memorandum  directing  the  Secretaries  of Agriculture and the Interior to
make recommendations on ways to rehabilitate burned lands, reduce fire risk
to  other  rural communities, and ensure adequate firefighting resources in
the  future.   With  more  fires anticipated in coming weeks, the President
also  will  announce  the release of $150 million in emergency funds to the
Department of Agriculture to continue firefighting and restoration efforts.

ONE  OF THE WORST FIRE SEASONS IN DECADES.  A prolonged drought followed by
record-high  temperatures, dry lightning, and low humidity have combined to
create  ideal conditions for forest fires in the western United States.  So
far  this year, 63,623 wildland fires have burned more than 4 million acres
-  almost  twice  the 10-year average.  Currently, 25,000 firefighters from
the  U.S.,  Canada,  and Mexico - including over 2,000 service members from
the  Army,  Marine  Corps,  Air and Army Guard, and Air Force Reserve - are
working  to contain 36 large fires in Arizona, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico,
Utah, Idaho, California and Wyoming.  As many as 300 new fires are cropping
up  daily,  with the cost of fire suppression averaging between $10 million
and $15 million a day.

currently  burning  is  the Burgdorf Junction Fire, about 23 miles north of
McCall  in  the Payette National Forest.  Reported on July 14, the fire was
caused  by a lightning storm and fueled by timber, brush, and grass parched
by  hot,  dry  weather.  The fire, which has so far burned 23,149 acres, is
now  40%  contained.  Joined by Secretaries Glickman, Babbitt, and Caldera,
President Clinton will visit the Burgdorf Junction Incident Command Post to
survey   firefighting   efforts  and  lend  support  and  encouragement  to
firefighters,  who have been battling the blaze for nearly three weeks.  In
addition to firefighters from several state and federal agencies, there are
500  Army troops from the 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery of Fort Hood,
Texas, battling the Burgdorf Junction fire.

ENHANCING  FIRE  PREVENTION  AND  RESPONSE.    The  President will issue an
Executive  Memorandum  directing  the  Secretaries  of  Agriculture and the
Interior to report back in 30 days with recommendations on ways to:

?    Respond to this year?s fires.  The report will include a plan for the
speedy rehabilitation of fire-damaged ecosystems - including ways to
minimize the introduction of invasive species, reduce threats to water
quality, and protect endangered species - and an assessment of the economic
impact of the fires.

?    Reduce fire risk to other communities.   Recommendations will be given
on near-term actions that the federal government can take, in cooperation
with state and local governments, to reduce immediate hazards to other
communities in the wildland-urban  interface.

?    Ensure sufficient firefighting resources in the future.   The report
will examine how the federal government, in cooperation with state, tribal
governments and local communities, can prepare for anticipated fire
conditions through fire management planning.

ongoing  efforts to combat wildfires and protect communities, the President
will release $150 million in emergency funds requested by the Department of
Agriculture  to  continue  fighting  wildfires  and restoring damaged lands
nationwide.   The funds will be drawn from an emergency account established
by  Congress to help meet urgent firefighting needs. Suppression operations
funding  includes firefighting salaries and expenses, costs associated with
national  mobilization,  and  large  aircraft  and  helicopter  operations.
Rehabilitation  activities  include  reducing  erosion  and  loss  of  soil
productivity,  deterioration  of  water quality, changes to ecosystems, and
damage to critical cultural and natural resources.

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