Statement from Partner Caucus on Fire Suppression Funding Solutions
~ Calforests is a member of the Caucus
August 5, 2015 (Arlington, Va.) —Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack released a report from the Forest Service today, which outlined how the growing costs of fighting wildfires is taking over many other areas of the agency’s budget. For the first time in the agency’s history, more than half of the Forest Service’s annual appropriated budget is devoted to wildfire, up from 16 percent in 1995.
“Wildfire firefighting costs are rising at an alarming rate, and this trend is only expected to increase,” said Cecilia Clavet of The Nature Conservancy, on behalf of the Fire Suppression Funding Solutions Partner Caucus. “We need to make sure these increasing fire suppression costs do not continue to eat up other, critical programs. The U.S. Forest Service could be decimated in the near future if nothing is done now to budget for the increasing ten-year average.”
“The ten-year average went just up $115 million in one year, which means next year appropriators will have to find another area in the budget to fund suppression,” she continued. “That $115 million translates to a whole lot of forest management, from acres of wildlife habitat restored and miles of roads managed to creating safer forests and maintaining recreation areas. Those things will just stop happening if the money isn’t there.”
“We are grateful for the hard work of the many, bipartisan members of Congress who are leading the way toward finding a fix for this severe budget problem,” concluded Clavet.