Number of staffed forest fire lookouts decreasing

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MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) -- The number of staffed forest fire lookouts keeps dwindling in Oregon, Washington and California as technology replaces human eyes.

The Medford Mail Tribune reports that of Oregon's 1,000 lookout sites, fewer than 20 percent have structures and 106 are staffed. The number is smaller in Washington state where only 30 lookouts are staffed. California has 50 staffed lookouts out of nearly 200 buildings available.

Advancements in technology such as cameras and aerial surveillance have replaced staffed lookouts.

Many of the structures are now rented to hikers.

But cameras can't replace human knowledge. Oregon Department of Forestry forester Dan Thorpe says human lookouts can provide information that cameras can't convey, like fire behavior, slope, and topography.

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Information from: Mail Tribune, http://www.mailtribune.com/