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Wildfire costs halt forest projects

August 28, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
National forest managers are halting road repair and campground projects in Southern California and elsewhere because of the soaring cost of fighting wildfires. Suppressing the unprecedented number of wild land fires this summer has been a costly proposition.

The forest service had to transfer funds for renovating aging facilities to pay for firefighting.

In the San Bernardino National Forest, the most heavily used in the country, Thurman Flats $750,000 budget for upgrades went to fire suppression.

"We spend twice as much as we normally have in years past. So the costs nationally have gone up considerably. So what has happened is that we are having to pay for those fire costs dating back to last October. We have had to defer some of our long term projects, such as reconstruction at Thurman Flats," said John Miller, from the U.S. Forest Service.

Even in its rustic, natural state many families will join thousands of visitors to the area this weekend.

"We are not closing any facilities. We are not changing the way we respond to emergencies on the forests, such as fires. We are going to continue with the day to day operations," said Miller.

A number of long time residents, like Don Huey, volunteer to keep the area clean. He is aware of the problems.

"At Forest Oaks they put up a concrete building up there for bathrooms. Over here we have these little hole in the wall bathrooms. One is closed off, or they've got nothing in it. The people come up here and they ruin it," said Huey.

Visitors to the national forest will find little change in the picnic areas and camp grounds this year. But until the budget deficit is addressed making those much needed upgrades will be more costly and take a lot more time.

 

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