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USDA Forest Service to Host Listening Session on Aerial Application of Fire Retardant

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June 06, 2011 12:38PM
USDA Forest Service to Host Listening Session on Aerial Application of Fire Retardant
Release Date: Jun 3, 2011
Contact(s): Forest Service Press Office (202) 205-1134, Stanton Florea (707) 562-9014

VALLEJO, CA – On June 7 from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. a community listening session on the nationwide plan for aerial application of fire retardant on National Forest System lands will be held in Santa Barbara at Cabrillo Pavilion Arts Center.

In response to a 2010 court decision, the U.S. Forest Service released a draft environmental impact statement that will help inform the agency's decision whether to continue aerial application of fire retardant and, if so, under what conditions.

In July 2010, a U.S. District Court in Montana directed the Forest Service to develop the environmental impact statement after an organization sued the agency claiming that fire retardant drops were harming waterways. The release of the draft impact statement on May 13, 2011, kicked off a 45-day public comment period.

“The use of fire retardant, in concert with firefighters on the ground, allows the Forest Service to safely protect landscapes, resources and, most importantly, people’s lives,” said Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “Research and experience demonstrate that aerially applied fire retardant, used in an appropriate manner, reduces wildfire intensity and the rate of spread, which increases the effectiveness of our fire suppression efforts on the ground.”

Most wildfires are managed without the use of fire retardants. From 2000 through 2010, aerially applied retardant was used on about 8.5 percent of wildfires on National Forests System lands, and over the last ten years, on lands managed by the Forest Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, and the states, only one of every 5,000 retardant drops has impacted waterways.

All federal wildland fire agencies follow the Guidelines for Aerial Delivery of Retardant or Foam Near Waterways to prevent application of retardant into waterways. In 2008, the Forest Service adopted additional measures recommended by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service to avoid impacts to listed species and habitat.

“This is an important topic to many Californians,” said Randy Moore, Regional Forester for the Pacific Southwest Region. “We encourage anyone with an interest in aerial fire retardant to participate in this process.”

The document is available online for review and comment. The agency will consider public remarks submitted during the comment period in the development of the final environmental impact statement expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2011.

The mission of the U.S. Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The Agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to State and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world.

USDA Forest Service to Host Listening Session on Aerial Application of Fire Retardant

Rick2146June 06, 2011 12:38PM

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