US Senators focus on forest restoration treatments in tour of Arizona-New Mexico border areas of Apache-Sitgreaves and Gila National Forests as part of wildfire-prevention efforts; event aims to highlight local businesses processing small-diameter wood

WASHINGTON , April 18, 2014 (press release) – Senators to tour the Apache-Sitgreaves and Gila National Forests along the Arizona-New Mexico state border

U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who both serve on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, will tour the Apache-Sitgreaves and Gila National Forests along the Arizona-New Mexico state border on Tuesday, April 22, to discuss forest restoration and related treatment, conservation, and protecting our communities from wildfire.

The tour is focused on the Senators' bipartisan efforts to address catastrophic wildfire prevention and recovery needs along the states' neighboring border and across the country.

The day-long tour will include visits to forest products industry sites in Arizona and New Mexico where local businesses are turning small diameter wood from restoration treatments into economic opportunity. Senators Flake and Heinrich will stop near Luna, New Mexico to view the Wallow Fire burn scar and discuss the fire's impact on the communities and the landscape. The 2011 Wallow Fire is the largest fire in Arizona history, burning 547,684 total acres in Arizona and New Mexico.

The Senators will also tour a home that has been maintained to reduce the risk of fire and highlight programs to assist homeowners in doing similar work.

Senator Heinrich will end the day by visiting the Catwalk National Recreation Area where he will discuss Whitewater-Baldy Fire recovery efforts. The 2012 Whitewater-Baldy Complex Fire in the Gila National Forest is the largest fire in recorded history in New Mexico, burning 297,845 acres.

Senator Heinrich is a cosponsor of the Stewardship Contracting Reauthorization and Improvement Act, a bill introduced by Senator Flake, which would authorize stewardship contracts until 2023 and improve contracting rules. Both Senators worked collaboratively to secure permanent authorization of stewardship contracting in the Farm Bill, which was signed into law on February 7, 2014.

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