ARIZONA, USA — Arizona is a hotbed for wildfires, especially as the state continues to see less than impressive rainfall totals.
Now, new efforts are underway for a proactive approach with the "Healthy Forest Initiative" which partners with prisons, to reduce wildfire risk.
Team 12's Mark Curtis spoke to Governor Doug Ducey about this new legislation and how it'll help salvage our beautiful landscape.
See the full interview here.
"It's a real win, we need this kind of support and service from people and it gives an opportunity for inmates while they're in prison to find their purpose," Gov. Ducey said.
He's calling the roughly $24 million proposal a win-win for our precious landscape, people, property and prisoners.
Low-risk inmates will help state forestry crews clean up and clear out wildfire-prone areas, specifically in the Northern part of the state.
Fire official Tiffany Davila with the Department of Forestry and Fire Management says that this shift in strategy is a game-changer.
"This increase in our fuels program will bring about 700 more inmates just strictly do work fuels mitigation work," she said. "This benefits not only the state, not only the feds but the citizens of Arizona to protect our beautiful landscape in our state."
In 2020, wildfires ravaged close to 980,000 acres in Arizona, the second most severe year for total acres burned.
So, the initiative is not only giving our diverse landscape a second chance at survival but as Gov. Ducey says, it guides inmates to a great purpose - post-incarceration.
"We had a lady, Krista Countryman, she’s a great example of someone who was in prison fighting addiction, we put a video out on social media, she found her purpose being a firefighter," Gov. Ducey added.
For more information on the initiative, visit the Governor's website.