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Obama talks wildfires with Herbert, other Western guvs

Published June 9, 2014 4:32 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert was one of eight Western governors who participated Monday in a video-teleconference with President Barack Obama to discuss the wildfire season and associated preparedness efforts.

The conversation was a continuation of the dialogue Obama began in February, when he met with Western governors to discuss the complex challenges presented by an increasingly dry future for the region, according to a White House news release.

Due to the drought affecting the West, the wildfire season in some parts has begun earlier and is expected to last longer than usual.

The president expressed his commitment to working closely with the governors as they deal with fires and their devastating impacts, according to the release. He also reiterated the administration's commitment to fund wildfire suppression in a more responsible and effective way, a commitment that was included in his fiscal year 2015 budget request.

The president and his advisers discussed the outlook for the existing drought and the current fire season, as well as for long-term wildfire trends. They also highlighted progress in providing the best-available science to aid in preparedness and response operations, modernizing wildland firefighting resources like air tankers, and efforts to build resilience to fires by restoring landscapes and forests, according to the release.

The president stated that the federal government will continue to look for ways to effectively partner with state and local governments, and that he looked forward to continuing to engage with the governors as they prepare their states for the impacts of a changing climate.

In addition to Herbert, governors from Arizona, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming and Idaho participated in the teleconference.