By JACQUES BILLEAUD
PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. (AP) - A senior federal official is urging communities, utilities and others to collaborate more on projects aimed at restoring forests and rangeland charred by blazes and guarding against catastrophic fires.
Harris Sherman, an undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture who oversees the U.S. Forest Service, tells government officials at a Western Governors' Association meeting Saturday in Paradise Valley, Ariz., that the federal government is accelerating its forest restoration projects and wants communities involved in similar efforts.
Sherman painted a stark picture of how the country's fire seasons are progressing.
Sherman says wildfires burned a near-record 9.1 million acres in the United States this year. Fourteen fires - nearly all in the West - burned more than 100,000 acres.
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