Lawmakers hear plea for more resources to fight fires

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ Nebraska fire experts are pointing to a fast-spreading tree species as a major contributor to last year's wildfires.

The Legislature's Natural Resources Committee heard testimony Friday from state forestry and fire experts who echoed a common theme: The eastern red cedar
is fueling many of the blazes.

Nebraska State Forester Scott Josiah testified that the trees are spreading over an estimated 38,000 acres per year. The tree is a pine, with needles and a resin that are both highly flammable. Josiah says extreme heat and drought are also to blame.

The hearing was called for a bill introduced by Senator Al Davis of Hyannis. Davis is urging lawmakers to act quickly on the measure, which would additional firefighting resources into Nebraska. the would contract for two additional air tankers, thin forests train volunteer firefighters, and expand a federal and state cost share program

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