Six former chiefs of the Forest Service have written leaders of the U.S. House and Senate expressing the urgent need to establish a new method of funding wildland firefighting.
The Forest Service and Department of Interior, they said, are alone among federal agencies in being forced to finance catastrophic emergency operations – fighting wildfires – out of their regular operational budgets.
“Today the Forest Service spends over half of its budget on fire management activities, compared to 16 percent in 1995,” the chiefs wrote. “In a 2015 report, the Forest Service projected the fire budget would consume two-thirds of the agency’s budget by 2025.”
And here’s the rub: The more wildland firefighting consumes the Forest Service’s budget, the less money the agency has for management activities that would either lessen the fire danger or make it easier to control fires once they start.
Thus the need for an immediate fire funding fix, said former chiefs Max Peterson, Dale Robertson, Michael Dombeck, Dale Bosworth, Abigail Kimball and Thomas Tidwell. [Read more…]