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Bill in Olympia would authorize pilot project for more controlled burns to curb major wildfires

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Crews reach the Complex Fire in Washington in August 2015.

Crews reach the Complex Fire in Washington in August 2015.

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington state lawmakers are considering a pilot project that would allow more controlled burning in order to reduce the severity of wildfires.

The Capital Press reports (http://goo.gl/c0juu2 ) that House Bill 2928 would give state land managers more flexibility to permit controlled burns in Central and Eastern Washington to make forests more resilient.

The Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee heard the bill on Wednesday and passed it with some changes. The bill was referred to the Ways and Means Committee.

Prime sponsor, Rep. Joel Kretz, a Republican from Wauconda, told senators the forests have grown chocked with brush that fuels catastrophic wildfires.

Diverse groups have supported the measure, including the Washington Farm Bureau, The Nature Conservancy and the Washington Public Employees Association, which represents state Department of Natural Resources firefighters.