Interior Secretary Ken Salazar visits Waldo Canyon Fire area

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Ken Salazar visits the Waldo Canyon Fire burn area on July 9, 2012.

Ken Salazar visits the Waldo Canyon Fire burn area on July 9, 2012.

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. — Interior Secretary Ken Salazar returned to his old college haunts Monday to tour the Waldo Canyon Fire burn area. His comments touted the resiliency of a community he once called home.

There must be 24 hours with no reported smoke before the fire can be classified 100-percent contained, but 98-percent containment has been achieved at the time of the former U.S. senator from Colorado’s visit.

With that process wrapping up, Salazar’s new office and other federal agencies are turning their attention toward restoring and reclaiming forest land along with helping the community and individual families recover.

“Our charge here when a fire happens like the one in Waldo Canyon is to come back and develop a landscape that is a resilient one,” Salazar said. “Our hope is that the forest is restored along with the community. But it’s a long-term commitment that we’re making.”

A native of Colorado and a former student at Colorado College, Salazar was the fourth member of President Barack Obama’s administration to visit the Waldo Canyon Fire area. The President himself, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack all visited before Salazar.

Authorities said the biggest challenge they’re continuing to face in the area is the remaining high fire danger, as a volatile fire season is still in its infancy.

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