California still owes for Nevada fire fighting

RENO, Nev. - Nevada is looking for a little more than an IOU from California and the federal government.

It still needs to collect $731,286 from its western neighbor and the feds to recover the state's cost for fighting fires over the past two years.

Figures from the Nevada Division of Forestry show that the state spent $4.5 million fighting fires during fiscal year 2000, which ended June 30. Of that, $533,969 still needs to be collected from the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and California Division of Forestry.

So far for fiscal year 2001, the state has spent $831,071 fighting fires. Nevada has recovered $629,754 with a little over $200,000 still outstanding. Most of that - $143,765 - is owed by the U.S. Forest Service with smaller amounts owed by the other two agencies, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported on Tuesday.

''Its not unusual,'' state forester Roy Trenoweth said.

''We haven't had two big fire seasons like that - back to back - that I can remember over the past 26 years. When the season is that big it will take awhile longer to settle all of the accounts.''

The severity and length of the fire season the past two years is the primary reason the money hasn't been paid. It usually takes between 90 and 120 days to collect from federal and state agencies.

Nevada officials say it could take longer because Forest Service and BLM workers have spent so much time this year out fighting fires and not in the office doing paperwork.

Fiscal year 2000 was a record-setting fire season for Nevada with more than one million acres burned across the state. Some counties have applied for and received federal aid to rehabilitate the land damaged by those fires.

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