America's Forests Need a Wildfire Funding Fix

Wildfire graphic

Today's fire seasons are on average 78 days longer than in the 1970s and are projected to grow hotter, more unpredictable, and more expensive in the coming years.

When wildfire strikes, the funds used to combat these disasters come directly out of the budgets for the USDA Forest Service and the Department of the Interior Agencies. Over the last few decades, the USDA Forest Service budget for fire suppression has grown from less than 20 percent to more than 50 percent of the agency’s total budget.

As wildfire eats up a significantly larger share of the agency’s budget, critical funding that supports federal, state and private forests is also impacted.  Those impacts include a decrease in the ability to thin forests to create more resilient conditions.Compounding the issue is a practice known as “fire borrowing”, which occurs when the agency runs out of appropriated funding in a given year. Fire borrowing robs money from non-wildfire programs to pay for the current year’s fire suppression needs.

America's forests urgently need a fix this year that will fund these catastrophic wildfires as we fund other natural disasters. 

“The National Association of State Foresters supports the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act of 2017 and appreciates the leadership of Representatives Mike Simpson and Kurt Schrader. This legislation supports critically needed changes to how federal wildfire suppression is paid for in the United States,” said Bill Crapser, Wyoming State Forester and President of NASF. “State Foresters know it’s always ‘wildfire season’ somewhere. So far this year, wildfires have scorched half a million more acres than at this time last year. It’s time to fix wildfire funding. We urge Congress to adopt this legislation, which will help state forestry agencies and their partners deliver on their missions to conserve, protect and enhance America’s forests.”

The National Association of State Foresters urges Congress to pass a bipartisan solution this year that fixes the broken wildfire funding process. Read the latest press release by the Partner Caucus on Fire Suppression Funding Solutions.

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