Congress seeks details on transfer of surplus military aircraft to aid in fighting wildfires

This week, more than a dozen Members of the House and Senate sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack requesting an update on plans to transfer surplus military aircraft to the Forest Service to fight wildfires. The Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act gives the Forest Service priority in obtaining up to seven aircraft deemed excess to the needs of the Department of Defense.

Earlier this week the  National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) issued a warning for “significant fire activity” for states on the West Coast and in the Southwest, as well as portions of Idaho and Montana. The NIFC predicts that the fire season in the Southwest will start sooner than normal and that California will reach its peak potential in July due to receiving only 40 percent of normal rainfall over the winter.