Editor's note: We would like to thank Senator Crapo, Senator Risch, Congressman Simpson, and Congressman Labrador for their support of the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act of 2014 (H.R. 3992, S. 1875).
by Bas Hargrove, senior policy representative
Simply put, the legislation would fund emergency wildfires like other national emergencies, ensuring that forest and conservation programs are not raided when firefighting funds are depleted.
What about paying for catastrophic wildfires? Congress gives the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) an annual firefighting budget based on the 10-year average of suppression costs. Sounds reasonable right? Well, what happens when we have a “big” fire year and the costs start piling on? Do you smell smoke? That’s the scent of the Forest Service and BLM burning through their non-firefighting budgets, meant to pay for things like preventing future catastrophic fires.