Smokey Bear might be right

So maybe it is true what Smokey Bear says: Only you can prevent wildfires. The “Press-Enterprise” newspaper of Riverside, California, recently cited a new study that nationwide, humans cause wildfire 84 percent of the time.
“Scientists analyzing fire data from 1992 to 2012 found that 84 percent of all U.S. wildfires – but only 44 percent of the total acres burned – were started by people, either by accident or on purpose,” the newspaper explained. “And human-caused blazes have more than tripled the length of the wildfire season from 46 days to 154 days, according to a recent study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”
“People are moving more and more into natural wild areas and essentially providing ignition for wildfires,” said lead author Jennifer Balch, a fire ecologist with University of Colorado-Boulder. This can result in nearly year-round fire seasons in some locations.
Although this is bad news for those of us living in wooded areas prone to wildfire, there is something you can do and now might just be the time to consider it.
A Fuels Mitigation program funded by a grant from the Bureau of Land Management and managed via a partnership among SMDC and the various County Conservation Districts in Petroleum, Musselshell and Judith Basin Counties, offers rural landowners a cost-share program that can cover up to 75 percent of the cost of fuel reduction efforts around a home site. A major emphasis of this Fuels Mitigation Program is to empower homeowners to take responsibility for making their homes as wildfire defensible as possible.
If you would like to learn more about the Firewise Program visit www.firewise.org or contact Snowy Mountain Development Corporation at 535-2591, or one of these County Conservation District administrators:
• Fergus and Judith Basin County, Teresa Wilhelms, 566-2311, extension 107
• Golden Valley and Musselshell County, Donna Pedrazzi, 323-2103, extension 101
• Petroleum County, Carie Hess, 429-6646, extension 4

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