BILLINGS, Mont. — The Biden administration said earlier this week that it will significantly expand efforts to stave off catastrophic wildfires that have torched areas of the U.S. West by more aggressively thinning forests around “hot spots” where nature and neighborhoods collide.
As climate change heats up and dries out the West, administration officials said they have crafted a $50 billion plan to more than double the use of controlled fires and logging to reduce trees and other vegetation that serves as tinder in the most at-risk areas. Only some of the work has funding so far.
Projects will begin this year, and the plan will focus on regions where out-of-control blazes have wiped out neighborhoods and sometimes entire communities — including California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, the east side of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, and portions of Arizona, Oregon and Washington state. Homes keep getting built in fire-prone areas, even as conditions that stoke blazes get worse.
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