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Washington studying if prescribed burns help prevent wildfires

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The Okanogan Complex Fire. (Photo: InciWeb.nwcg.gov)

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington officials are conducting a pilot program to weigh the benefits of prescribed burns in preventing wildfires.

Our news partner The Seattle Times reports that the state Department of Natural Resources program is part of legislation signed last week by Gov. Jay Inslee that includes stronger language directing the state to approve permits for these burns.

The legislation comes after last year’s record-setting wildfire season.

Prescribed burns are intentional fires meant to reduce fuel for wildfires. Forest Service officials want to increase the scale of these burns in Washington.

The new legislation requires the Department of Natural submit a report about the burns to the Legislature by December 2018. It also loosens permitting requirements if it appears the fires are unlikely to significantly detract from air quality.