Funding for Wildfires
Pressure is building to change the way Congress funds the cost of fighting wildfires. Senators of both parties have joined the White House in urging action during the lame-duck session aimed at providing a more stable financing mechanism for wildfire suppression. Under current policies, the Forest Service must pull money from other programs each year to meet the growing costs of firefighting. Last Monday, Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Steve Daines (R-MT) wrote a letter to the conferees of the energy bill (S 2012) imploring them to include language that will address the Forest Service’s chronic budgetary shortfalls. The administration has proposed providing annual funding amounting to 70 percent of a 10-year average of firefighting costs. Any money above that cap would be considered emergency spending, similar to how natural disaster funding currently operates.