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For Immediate Release, November 26, 2007


David Hogan, Center for Biological Diversity, (619) 473-8217(office), (760) 809-9244 (cell)
Bill Corcoran, Sierra Club, (213) 387-6528 x 208 or (310) 490-3419 (cell)

Counties and Cities Must Act to Discourage
New Development in High Fire Risk Areas:
U.S. Senate Committee to Hold San Diego
Field Hearing Tuesday, November 27th

SAN DIEGO, Calif.— A field hearing on the 2007 fires will be held by the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Interior, Environment at 9:30 A.M., Tuesday November 27, 2007, in the San Diego City Council Chambers. The hearing is an opportunity to identify how federal, state, and local authorities can stop the explosion of costs caused by the immense amount of development in high fire-risk areas since the 1990s. It has become obvious that local planning decisions are costing states and the federal government billions of dollars managing fire risk and fighting fires.

The field hearing follows on the heels of recent fire bills introduced by Senator Diane Feinstein. The first bill would provide $500 million in emergency fire funding and was approved by Conference Committee on November 6th and awaits final approval by the House, Senate, and President. Senator Feinstein subsequently introduced a package of fire bills on November 16th, including the “Fire Safe Communities Act” that would establish a new model fire-safe ordinance with new building codes, standards for creation of “defensible space” around homes, and reduction of hazardous fuels; increase federal reimbursement of firefighting costs to communities that adopt the new ordinance, and provide federal grants to communities for fire-safe activities.

“The first step is making sure that local governments have the best planning standards and fire risk data. The second step is making sure they use it to make smarter development decisions,” said Bill Corcoran, senior regional representative for the Sierra Club. “Limiting new development in high fire-risk places is the most important thing that counties and cities can do for the long-term protection of people and nature.”

“The continuing development of new homes in high fire-risk areas is public enemy number one,” added David Hogan, conservation manager with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Development of remote natural areas puts people in harm’s way and takes an incredible toll on nature.”

Conservation groups intend to work closely with federal, state, and local leaders to discourage new high-risk development and direct resources toward making existing homes and communities more fire safe.

Said Hogan, “So much needs to be done to make existing homes and communities fire safe that scarce resources shouldn’t be wasted on remote fuels and vegetation management. Fire is occurring too frequently in southern California chaparral and coastal sage scrub, and fuels treatments like prescribed fire can be counterproductive and harmful when less flammable native vegetation is converted into highly flammable exotic invasive grasslands to the detriment of public safety and healthy ecosystems.”

A press release on the Senate field hearing can be viewed at:

Press releases from Senator Feinstein on her fire bills can be viewed at: =24cc6446-a3ea-8e9c-bb21-284132bde77b =49ac74b5-a081-73e4-d7eb-3ab0bf787a7b

The Center for Biological Diversity is a nonprofit conservation organization with more than 35,000 members dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.  

The Sierra Club's members and supporters are more than 1.3 million of your friends and neighbors. Inspired by nature, we work together to protect our communities and the planet. The Club is America's oldest, largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization.


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