US West's wildfires spark calls to thin tree-choked forests

FILE - In this Sept. 5, 2017, file photo, the Eagle Creek wildfire burns on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge near Cascade Locks, Ore. An Or

In this Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017 photo, Washington Department of Natural Resources firefighter Chris Werner, of Chehalis, sprays the south fire line o

FILE - In this June 23, 2017, file photo, the Brian Head Fire burns in Brian Head, Utah. Wildfires that have blackened more than thousands of the Ame

FILE- In this Sept. 5, 2017, file photo, a wildfire burns through residential areas near the mouth of Weber Canyon near Ogden, Utah. Interior Secretar

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Wildfires that are blackening the American West in one of the nation's worst fire seasons have ignited calls to thin forests that have become choked with trees.

The destruction has exposed old frictions between environmentalists and those who want to see logging accelerated, and it's triggered a push to reassess how lands should be managed to prevent severe wildfires.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke issued a directive Tuesday for department managers and superintendents to aggressively prevent wildfires, including removing dead and dying trees. The strategy is backed by some firefighters, lawmakers and experts, who recommend logging and allowing fires to be managed instead of extinguished to thin forests.

Some residents and environmental groups oppose those options. Several Oregon communities are opposing a planned federal sale of old-growth trees, saying logging will increase the risk of blazes spreading to communities.