“The time to act is now if we want to ultimately over time change the trajectory of these fires,” Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack said.

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As climate change heats up and dries out the West, administration officials said they have crafted a $50 billion plan to more than double the use of controlled fires and logging to reduce trees and other vegetation that serves as tinder in the most at-risk areas.

They said work will begin this year and the plan will focus on regions where out-of-control blazes have wiped out neighborhoods and sometimes entire communities — including California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, the east side of the Rocky Mountain in Colorado, and portions of Arizona, Oregon and Washington state.

“You’re going to have forest fires. The question is how catastrophic do those fires have to be,” Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack told the Associated Press in advance of a planned public announcement of the administration’s wildfire strategy at a Tuesday event in Phoenix.

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