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Congressmen Will Question Park Service Officials About Reading Fire

Published On: Oct 23 2012 11:23:56 AM CDT
Reading Fire
REDDING, Calif. -

U.S. Representatives Wally Herger and Tom McClintock will convene a panel of experts to discuss the Reading Fire that burned 28,000 acres in Shasta County in July and August.

Specifically, they want to review the decision by the National Park Service to let burn, instead of fight, the Reading fire that started in Lassen Volcanic National Park on July 23. 

The meeting will be held in room 126 at the State Capitol and last from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The fire started from a lightning strike.  The Park Service intended to manage the fire for ecosystem benefits.  Instead, the Reading fire exploded into an uncontrolled wildfire on August 6 and eventually burned more than 28,000 acres of forestland, destroyed private property, depressed local air quality, stretched firefighting resources, and harmed the region's significant forest product and tourism industries.  Suppression costs exceeded $15 million.  
Representatives from the Park Service, Forest Service, CAL FIRE, local elected officials, forestry specialists and fire experts will review a wide range of issues.

They will discuss if the initial decision to allow the fire to grow was consistent with national policy.  Another topic will be whether the decision properly considered the conditions that existed at the time, impacts on state and local firefighting resources, impacts on the local economy, impacts to natural resources, options to reduce forest fuel loads, and how to best reintroduce fire back into the landscape while also protecting public health and safety.  

Although the review is not a formal hearing, panelist comments and a summary of the information gathered during the review will be provided to the House Committee on Natural Resources.