Message of the Week
Thursday, March 23, 2006
On Tuesday, I convened my Fourth Annual Forest Health and Safety Conference, held in conjunction with the Arizona Wildfire Academy. Located in Prescott, a city that is surrounded by some of Arizona's most beautiful forestlands, the conference and academy are important parts of our strategy to restore our forests to a healthy condition and protect our forested communities. Both events provide an opportunity for community leaders, firefighters, and fire and land managers to continue building on our success in forest health.
This year, conference participants developed recommendations to further the first-ever statewide restoration strategy for Arizona's forests. The breakout sessions evaluated everything from empowering our local communities to take action to promoting a community-based approach to forest ecosystem restoration and community protection. The conference was an opportunity for me to get an update on the success of the stewardship contract in the Apache Sitgreaves National forest-the largest in the country. It was contracted to two locally owned companies and as a result they have treated over 8,900 acres. The materials removed from the treated land provide for nine-locally owned and operated and growing industries in northern Arizona. This is an inspiring example for us to build upon.
The Arizona Wildfire Academy began in 2003 with about 400 participants and has grown to 960 this year. The Academy is now recognized as one of the premier wildfire academies in the country and is an important part of ensuring we have a fire fighting system that is prepared and well trained.
One of the biggest threats to our forests' health is human-caused wildfire, which poses a danger to wildlife habitat and our communities. Earlier this year, I declared a state of emergency to pre-position supplies and manpower. In case a fire starts, we have done all we can to be ready.
Because 60 percent of our wildfires are man-made, all of us have a role to play in preventing fires. We will have wildfires, but we can minimize the number of acres of our beautiful forests burned and protect our property if we take the proper precautions. Make sure to create a defensible space around your home, and practice caution when you're out enjoying our beautiful state.
For information on how to protect your home and property, and for the latest bulletins on fires in your area, visit Arizona 2-1-1 online at http://www.az211.gov/ . I encourage all of you to "do your part, don't let wildfires start."
As always, I appreciate your input, and encourage you to call my office at 602.542.1318 if you have questions or thoughts to share. Or, please visit our website at http://www.azgovernor.gov for information and news in state government.
Yours very truly,