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Utah And Federal Officials Sign Agreement On Forest Planning

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah and federal officials have signed an agreement to defer to the state when planning forest projects.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported Wednesday that Republican Gov. Gary Herbert and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue signed the agreement Wednesday.

Officials say the deal obligates the U.S. Forest Service to rely on the state's guidance for designing, implementing and prioritizing projects intended to reduce wildfire risks and promote the health of the state's 12,500 square miles of forest.

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Utah officials say they believe the agreement will build on existing programs and investments in restoring degraded forest landscapes.

A Utah forest supervisor says the forest service has already prepared and authorized treatment plans on 1,563 square miles (4,048 square kilometers) of state forest land using mechanical thinning and controlled fires.