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The wrap on wildfire. (Clippings).

As the 2001 wildfire season moved toward its close, firefighters were battling blazes, closely following weather predictions, and mourning the loss of four people in a Washington blaze (see Transitions).

"The threat of wildfire will continue through the end of September," says Dennis Pendleton, Forest Service director of the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. "When you have a dry June like we had, there traditionally will be bad fire conditions in July and August. All the northwest block of the United States, from Washington to northern California, Colorado to Montana, still has a high potential for drought."

State and federal officials have been closely following weather predictions this year hoping last year's wildfire season would not he repeated. In 2000, close to 123,000 fires burned more than 8.4 million acres. The 10-year average for acres burned annually is about 3.8 million.

The fire season starts in Florida in the spring and from the first of the year to June 1 close to 3,000 fires burned more than 383,000 acres in Florida. "I've been involved in Florida agriculture practically all my life and I've never seen it this dry. We must do everything we can to prevent wildfire from starting," Florida Department of Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson said in late May as he encouraged Floridians to help prevent human-caused wildfire.

A three-year drought was a major reason for the large number of spring fires. "It was a rough wildfire season early on," says Terrence McElroy, spokesman for the Florida Division of Forestry.

By the official start of summer, conditions had begun to improve in Florida but wildfires had become sporadic in the West and Alaska.

While officials monitored the fires and firefighters battled the blazes, AMERICAN FORESTS continued its Wildfire ReLeaf campaign, a large-scale initiative to reforest areas scorched in recent years.

Twenty-seven Penn State students helped plant some 7,300 native trees in California's Tahoe National Forest as part of Wildfire ReLeaf activities this spring. instead of traveling to Daytona Beach or some other college hot spot, they spent their spring break helping restore part of a 13,000-acre burn caused when a tree fell on a power line during high winds.

The "Pendola burn" project is sponsored by specialty retailer Eddie Bauer, which is helping ensure that some 94,000 Douglas-fir, ponderosa pine, and sugar pines are planted as part of the reforestation effort. The area includes 150 acres of bald eagle habitat.

"The whole project was special ... none of us had ever ventured into service leadership before," says senior horticulture major and project organizer Brady Smith.

"One of the greatest things was standing over the charred land that we had just reforested. . . Pausing there at that great height we had a chance to see unobstructed, That moment of clarity helped us to realize that we are the ones who can make the change in our own world and the greater world we live in."

IN OTHER WILDFIRE RELEAF NEWS:

* Customers raised $160,000 for Wildfire ReLeaf during a three-week summer "focus" period at Eddie Bauer stores and in its online sales. Associates at the specialty retailer's 550 stores across the United States and Canada encouraged customers to donate one dollar to plant a tree through the company's "Add a dollar, Plant a tree" program. The donations will now be matched tree-for-tree by the U.S. Forest Service.

* Tree New Mexico, Inc. and AMERICAN FORESTS distributed some 2,000 trees to residents of Los Alamos during spring educational and informational workshops. Dozens of residents, some of whom lost their homes during the wildfire, received trees for planting and information on site preparation, insects, and disease. AMERICAN FORESTS also helped provide two pueblos with 3,500 trees for planting at burn sites.

* Last winter AMERICAN FORESTS finished its three-year effort to plant 300,000 longleaf pine in Florida's Tiger Bay and Lake George state forests, where more than half the pine forest was destroyed during wildfires in 1998.

* Customers of The Davey Tree Expert Company will receive information about Wildfire ReLeaf in the tree care company's fall newsletter.
COPYRIGHT 2001 American Forests
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:American Forests
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2001
Words:686
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