Center for Biological Diversity

Protecting endangered species and wild places through
science, policy, education, and environmental law.

PRESS ADVISORY : June 26, 2003
CONTACT : Brian Segee, Southwest Public Lands Director, Center for Biological Diversity (520) 623-5252 x308
More Information: Center's Fire and Ecosystem Health Campaign


Cause still under investigation, the Aspen fire burning in the Santa Catalina Mountains outside of Tucson, Arizona has burned 322 homes and businesses in and near the village of Summerhaven--over 70 percent of the town’s structures. The lack of fuel-reduction treatments conducted on National Forest lands adjacent to Summerhaven starkly illustrates the shortcomings of the Bush Administration’s so-called “Healthy Forests Initiative,” as well as the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003, passed by the House of Representatives in May and currently pending before the Senate.

Coronado National Forest Contains Extensive Areas of Wildland Urban Interface
The Coronado National Forest is located next to rapidly expanding urban areas (Tucson, Oracle, Sierra Vista, Nogales and Sonoita/Patagonia). Approximately 34,000 acres of the Forest are in urban interface areas, and in the Tucson area alone there are approximately 60 miles of interface. 14 wildland-urban interface communities within or near the Coronado National Forest are considered by the Forest Service to be at high risk from wildfire.

Hazardous Fuels Reduction Budget for Fiscal Year 2001 on the Coronado National Forest
In FY 2001, the Coronado received $417,000 to do hazardous fuels reduction on 5,142 acres.

Hazardous Fuels Reduction for FY 2002 on the Coronado National Forest Treats Fewer Acres Than FY 2001
In FY 2002, the Coronado received $775,000 to do hazardous fuels reduction on 1,738 acres, of which 1079 acres were in the wildland-urban interface.

Summerhaven Nearly Burns During Summer of 2002
In May 2002, the "Bullock" fire burned 35,000 acres of forest, threatening Summerhaven and leading to an evacuation.

Despite Bullock Fire, Hazardous Fuels Reduction Budget for FY 2003 on the Coronado National Forest Targets Even Fewer Wildland-Urban Interface Acres Than FY 2002
In FY 2003, the Coronado received $877,000 to do hazardous fuels reduction on 1,291 acres, of which 686 acres are in the wildland-urban interface.

Fuels Reduction Funding Requests for Summerhaven Ignored
The Forest Service requested $1 Million for 1/4 mile community protection zone hazardous fuel treatments in the perimeter around town and fire protection work adjacent to homes. Residents in Summerhaven circulated petition asking for creation of defensible space around the village in wake of Bullock fire. Only $120,000 was received.

Coronado National Forest Fire Protection Projects "on hold due to lack of funding"
The proposed Red/Bear/Soldier fuel reduction project would have instituted thinning and prescribed burning projects within the vicinity of Summerhaven. At the time the Aspen fire broke out, the project was “on hold due to lack of funding.”

No Appeals or Litigation Filed Against Fuel Reduction Projects

No proposed fuel reduction projects on the Coronado National Forest have been delayed by appeals or litigation. Project implementation has not occurred because the Bush administration has not allocated sufficient money.


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