Bipartisan Senate bill aims to prevent Western wildfires

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Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

A firefighter runs along a containment line while battling a wildfire Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, in Santa Rosa, Calif.

Thu, Oct 19, 2017 (1:57 p.m.)

WASHINGTON — As wildfires rage across California and the West, a bipartisan group of senators is seeking to help rural communities better prepare for and prevent catastrophic wildfires.

A bill sponsored by senators from three Northwestern states would authorize hundreds of millions in new spending to help at-risk communities prevent wildfires and create a pilot program to cut down trees in the most fire-prone areas.

Under a streamlined approval process, forest managers would "thin" pine forests near populated areas and do controlled burns in remote regions. The bill also calls for detailed reviews of any wildfire that burns over 100,000 acres.

Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington state says the bill would "create new tools to reduce fire risk and help better protect our communities." Three Democrats and two Republicans are co-sponsors.

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