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Stimulus funds to cut wildfire risk

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$350,000 will improve firebreaks on the Hoosier National Forest

By Vince Luecke

TELL CITY - A portion of the massive federal spending program intended to stimulate the nation's economy will help reduce the risk of damaging wildfires in the Hoosier National Forest.

The U.S. Forest Service will receive $350,000 to reduce downed trees near firebreaks designed to keep fires within the forest in check.

The money comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and was announced last month by U. S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.  

The project is among the 110 hazardous-fuels reduction and eco-system-improvement projects located on forested lands in over 26 states and U.S. territories.

The project also includes improving fire lines for wildfire-suppression efforts and establishing perimeters for future prescribed burns. Work will be done by contractors over two years and will begin in Perry and Crawford counties, where a considerable amount of ice damage has occurred in recent months.

“This is a great opportunity for the Hoosier to reduce the chance for wildfires and protect the soil, water  and wildlife resources in the forest,” said Mike Davis, fire management officer for the Hoosier National Forest.

In his announcement last month, Vilsack said the money will be used to protect communities and restore healthy forests.

“These projects provide benefits to current and future generations, including improved water quality and quantity, healthy forests that provide clean air and recreation opportunities while reducing wildfire risks.”

Perry County is home to more than 50,000 acres of federal forest.