US agency asks refund of Ore. tree thinning money

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BEND, Ore. (AP) -- The federal government wants Deschutes County to repay $328,000 in grant money for thinning forests that could be a hazard to housing. The Federal Emergency Management Agency says some work was done outside approved areas.

The Bulletin in Bend reports (http://bit.ly/uCG7kA ) the county has been enlisting residents and contractors to remove brush and thin trees, and the project got a major boost with a $1.3 million grant from the agency.

But work has been stopped for a year, and the agency has also halted work on $5.4 million more worth of wildfire project grants in Deschutes, Crook and Klamath Counties.

The agency says it has to do environmental and historic preservation assessments of areas to approve them for thinning work.

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Information from: The Bulletin, http://www.bendbulletin.com