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Partnership Formed To Increase Controlled Fires In California

(AP) - Environmental groups and federal and state agencies have formed a partnership to increase the use of prescribed fires to improve the health of California's forests and watersheds and minimize the effects of increasingly devastating wildfires.

The agreement was signed by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the U.S. Forest Service and other federal and state agencies and several environmental groups, including the Sierra Club and The Nature Conservancy.

The memorandum of understanding will enable the sharing of resources and expertise among the agreement signatories, who will hold their first working meeting Tuesday.

The agreement follows years of devastating wildfires in drought-parched California. Supporters say prescribed fires are one way to prevent massive, destructive wildfires.

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