Forest Service will continue using fire retardant

By JEFF BARNARD | October 24, 2011 | 3:15 PM EDT

The U.S. Forest Service has backed away from claims about the effectiveness of dropping huge red plumes of fire retardant on wildfires, but does not expect to cut back on its use.

Acting under a court order, the agency Friday began sending out copies of an environmental impact statement laying out how it plans to use fire retardant without harming threatened and endangered fish, wildlife and plants.

Forest Service analyst Glen Stein says that after it was pointed out the agency has no hard data showing fire retardant to be effective, it toned down earlier claims.

But he says firefighters know from experience that fire retardant is useful, and they plan to keep using it while taking steps not to harm endangered species.