Fire defense aid to rural Lane homeowners at risk

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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) -- A victim of the impending cutoff of federal subsidies to Oregon timber counties could be aid for rural homeowners in Lane County to protect their houses against forest fires.

The Register-Guard reports (http://bit.ly/JAfwK5) the money pays for providing advice to homeowners. It also pays for removing brush and trees to create what firefighters call a "defensible space" around a house and for replacing roofs made of wood shakes with fireproof material.

The county is spending $1.2 million on the Firewise program this year. Officials say the tentative plan for the next budget calls for phasing out the program by spending $400,000 left over from previous years.

Congress is considering an extension of the timber county payments. It's not clear whether that will succeed or how much money would be available.

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Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com