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WASHINGTON – President Bush recently signed legislation that would help prevent widespread destruction from wildfires similar to the California fires that killed residents and destroyed homes. At a Dec. 3 signing ceremony at the Department of Agriculture, Bush signed into law the Healthy Forest Restoration Act, a measure that will authorize $760 million a year for thinning projects on 20 million acres of federal land. At least half of all money spent on those projects must be near homes and communities. The California Credit Union League spearheaded several relief funds to help victims of the wildfires. “While the League initiated, coordinated and supported a substantial relief effort to aid hundreds of victims of the Southern California wildfires, our Government Relations Committee never discussed the legislation President Bush signed today, and therefore we never took a position on it,” said Mark Lowe, the CCUL’s public relations specialist. The bill also requires judges to weigh the environmental consequences of inaction and the risk of fire in cases involving thinning projects. Any court order blocking such projects would have to be reconsidered every 60 days, Bush said. The California wildfires burned more than 750,000 acres, destroyed 3,640 homes, 33 businesses and 1,141 other structures. Wildfires have destroyed 11 million acres over the last two years and killed 22 people in Southern California this year alone.

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