Assembly addresses health impacts of smoke, wildfires with resolution

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The Anchorage Assembly is considering a resolution aimed at reducing the health impacts of wildfires in Alaska.

The resolution, drafted by assemblyman Fred Dyson, requests that public lands managers take action to prevent, limit and mitigate wildfires that have significant health impacts on the community, and requests that managers consider not allowing some fires to burn themselves out if the smoke could cause significant health harm and impacts to transportation and transmission networks.

"One doctor said, who treats pulmonary related things, half her patients were in the hospital, and I know I have neighbors here who have heart conditions and so on. Doctors told them to stay inside," Dyson said.

The assembly does not have authority of the Division of Forestry or any other agency that plays a role in the decision making process of how a wildfire is managed and the resolution doesn't create any legal changes. Instead, if adopted, it is a formal sign from the assembly in support of the idea.

In addition to considering the health impacts deciding to let a fire burn, Dyson says he wants to make sure forest managers have the authority and resources for more preventative and measures.

"I want the forest managers to realize that there is support out there, hopefully informed support in the community, for them having all the tools they need to prevent, fight, mitigate fires and reduce the human hazards and hazards to the environment," Dyson said. "Our congressional leadership may indeed want to encourage the national forest managers to rethink their priorities and restrictions, and perhaps find tools, management tools they need to fight these fire and contain them that they do not now have."

The resolution will be heard before the assembly at its regular meeting Thursday.

You can read the resolution here.

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