During Shutdown, Wildfire Training for Many State and Local Firefighters Postponed

January 14, 2019 AT 6:55 AM

By Nathan Rott

In Tennessee, a wildland fire training academy was canceled. In California and the southeast U.S., forest cleanup and fuel mitigation projects, intended to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire, are being postponed. In Montana, a workshop designed to help forest managers better prepare communities for fire risk has been scuttled.

As the partial government shutdown stretches into its third week, becoming the longest shutdown in U.S. history, hundreds of thousands of federal workers remain furloughed.

That includes thousands of people at the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management, who would otherwise be preparing for the upcoming fire season or working on projects to reduce wildfire risk.

That lost time is raising concerns from fire officials around the country.

"We're fortunate in that fire potential and the fire danger is relatively low across the country at this point," said Dan Smith, the fire director for the National Association of State Foresters and a board member for the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. "But this is the time of year where we make plans and work out processes for the coming year."

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