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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The state has reached an agreement with the U.S. Forest Service to settle an air pollution dispute from the prescribed Cascade Springs burn that raged out of control a year ago.
Instead of paying thousands of dollars in fines for each day the air was below acceptable standards, the federal government has agreed to purchase $25,000 worth of air monitors to deploy around prescribed burns in the future and spend $8,000 in training.
The Sept. 23, 2003 fire that was supposed to be a prescribed burn of 600 acres in the Cascade Springs area ended up consuming 7,790 acres after wind carried embers past the break line. More than 500 firefighters and nearly a dozen helicopters and planes battled the blaze, which poured smoke into Wasatch Front valleys for a week.
The federal government had previously agreed to cover all rehabilitation costs associated with the fire.
The air quality settlement comes as the Forest Service is about to undertake its first prescribed burn since Cascade Springs. Perhaps as early as Oct. 12, Forest Service crews will ignite a 2,400-acre burn in the Halls Fork area, northeast of Diamond Fork in the Spanish Fork Ranger District of the Uinta National Forest.
The burn is intended to reintroduce fire into the ecosystem, reduce fuels to stave off the risk of a more catastrophic wildfire in the future and create more diverse vegetation for the area's wildlife habitats, said Forest Service spokeswoman Loyal Clark.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)