Big Bear, CA, April 20, 2011, 5:00pm – The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, or the NRCS, along with the US Forest Service, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, San Bernardino, Riverside, and San Diego counties hosted a recognition event in Crestline today to commemorate six years worth of work reducing the threat of wildfire, improving forest health and protecting residents in Southern California. This work was funded through a 2004 Congressional appropriation of $150 million to remove dead, dying and diseased trees in San Bernardino and other counties to help fire crews more safely and effectively fight wildfires. To date more than 60,000 acres have been treated. K-Bear asked Congressman Jerry Lewis, who was in attendance at the event, about the future funding of the NRCS in light of the budget cuts now proposed in Washington. California State Conservationist Ed Burton said that in one recent fire over $300 million was saved due in large part to the forest-thinning project. Congressman Lewis and Deputy Under Secretary Ann Mills believe that spending the funding now can save our mountain communities, our unique environment, and future tax dollars.