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By Jonathon Golden
Writers on the Range 

Guest Editorial: The debt we owe wildland firefighters


“It’s like having gasoline out there,” said Brian Steinhardt, forest fire zone manager for Prescott and Coconino national forests in Arizona, in a recent AP story about the increasingly fire-prone West.

Now something else is happening — and at the worst possible time.

Federal firefighters are leaving the workforce and taking their training and experience with them. The inability of federal agencies to offer competitive pay and benefits is creating hundreds of wildland firefighting vacancies.

Vacancies, of course, limit how much federal firefighters can do. If Western communities wan...

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