Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet
Public forum in Clay County examines wildland arson
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 24, 2006) - What will it take to stop wildland arson? State, local and county officials, along with private citizens in eastern Kentucky, are trying to find the answer.
A public forum on the impact of wildland arson was held today at the Manchester Recreational Park. A second forum is scheduled Monday, Feb. 27, in Pikeville. It will be held 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. EST at the Pikeville Fire Department Training Center.
The Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet (EPPC) is hosting the events in cooperation with Kentucky State Police, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and the Kentucky National Guard. State, local and county officials, law enforcement agencies, fire departments, forest industry representatives, forest landowners and the public are participating.
Clay and Pike counties have high rates of wildland arson. In the past six years there have been 357 wildland fires in Clay County, including 90 in the last year. Pike County has had 475 wildland fires in the same period, of which 84 occurred last year. Wildland arson damages thousands of acres of valuable timberland, threatening timber industry jobs and hundreds of homes annually. Firefighters risk injury and death. Smoke degrades air quality and aggravates respiratory illnesses, especially in children and the elderly.
EPPC Secretary LaJuana S. Wilcher is leading the discussion. Issues include causes of wildland arson and how to reduce it, informing citizens of the value of their forests, increasing community involvement, apprehending arsonists and prosecuting them. Information from the forums will be provided to the Wildland Arson Task Force, which will make recommendations to Governor Ernie Fletcher.