This week, the National Association of State Foresters and more than 125 diverse organizations submitted a letter to congressional leadership in support of a comprehensive wildfire funding solution.
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 under 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.
Addressing fire funding impacts on land management agencies is critical to ensuring land management goals are met. As Congress considers a fire funding solution, we urge its members to ensure the solution addresses the impacts of the increasing cost of suppression on land management programs, in addition to the practice of fire borrowing. In addition, as part of this legislative effort or separately, NASF supports environmentally responsible forest management reforms which would encourage more active management of federal forests.