US pledges to work more closely with states vs. wildfires

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, joined at right by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., discuss ways to improve the health of the forests and how to reduce wildfires, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 16.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is pledging to work more closely with state and local officials to prevent wildfires and fight those choking California and other western states.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says officials are targeting wide swaths of land — including cutting down small trees and underbrush and setting controlled fires — to reduce the frequency and severity of fires now burning across the western United States.

Perdue, who toured the California fires this week, said at a news conference Thursday the new effort will strengthen stewardship of public and private lands throughout the West.

California and other states face longer and more destructive wildfire seasons because of drought, warmer weather attributed to climate change and homes built deeper into forests. Yosemite National Park’s scenic valley reopened Tuesday after a 20-day closure because of smoke.

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