'Rural Sprawl' Increases Fire Threat In Sierras

<p>Increasing development in California's Sierra Nevada Mountains is adding significantly to the area's fire risk. Some are calling for more scrutiny in the approval of further development in the fire-prone area.</p>
September 19, 2007, 5am PDT | Nate Berg
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"Having a picture window on the wilderness may be a dream come true, but according to a two-year study by the Sierra Nevada Alliance, the spate of new homes on the peaks, ridges and wildland areas threatens a disastrous fire. And taxpayers are picking up the bill for extra fire-protection measures."

"'There is a tremendous amount of population growth going on in these extreme fire danger areas,' said Autumn Bernstein, the alliance's land use coordinator and the author of the 45-page study, entitled 'Dangerous Development: Wildfire and Rural Sprawl in the Sierra Nevada.'"

"In response to the report, some county officials said they consider fire danger before approving new developments. New state laws also require homeowners to do more to protect their homes."

"The number of people living in the Sierra's extreme or very high fire-threat areas increased 16 percent between 1990 and 2000, according to the report. What's worse is that 94 percent of new home development planned in the Sierra Nevada is also within these danger zones."

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Published on Tuesday, September 18, 2007 in The San Francisco Chronicle
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