State foresters endorse more effective wildland fire suppression cost controls

WASHINGTON—To achieve better controls over wildland fire suppression costs, the National Association of State Foresters (NASF) asked Congress today, in testimony given by Kirk Rowdabaugh, Arizona’s State Forester, to direct the federal agencies to make collaboration on all four goals of the 10 year Comprehensive Strategy for reducing wildland fire risks and cost controls one of the highest priorities. He testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on behalf of the Western Governors Association (WGA), NASF, and the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

Mr. Rowdabaugh, NASF’s Vice President, stressed that state forestry agencies have agreements with federal agencies and local communities and have been successfully partnering on wildfire management and working with these partners to control fires safely, efficiently, and effectively. He testified that the recent Office of Inspector General’s Audit Report, from the Agriculture Department, is “disturbing in the apparent uncertainties of federal authorities in managing wildfires on national forests.

NASF believes that cost containment is essential. However, “cost shifting to states and local governments is not the solution”, commented Austin Short, NASF President and Delaware State Forester. “This issue is a top priority, and we look forward to working with our federal partners on creating agreements to meet the needs of wildland fire suppression in this country,” he added.

“Continuing droughts, climate change, and overly dense stands of trees and wildfire fuels point to continued suppression cost increases; therefore, all partners must continue our joint efforts to not only contain costs but also find ways to provide increasing budget resources to successfully address these immense challenges,” Mr. Rowdabaugh concluded.