United States Representatives Mike Simpson (R-ID) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR) today introduced the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act of 2015 (H.R. 167). The bill would change how the federal government budgets for wildland fire suppression to eliminate the need to transfer funds from critical forest conservation and management programs.
Jim Karels, Florida State Forester and President of the National Association of State Foresters said today:
“State foresters continue to support the approach proposed in the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act and applaud the leadership of Representatives Mike Simpson (R-ID) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR). It’s always wildfire season somewhere in the United States, and this bill would make critically needed changes to how America pays for fire suppression.
“By redirecting funds for programs that improve resiliency of forests to threats—such as mitigation and fuel treatment efforts—the current system exacerbates forest health and actually increases future fire risk and costs. It simply makes no sense.
“We urge Congress to adopt this legislation to end transfers from forest conservation and management programs in order to pay for fire suppression. This fix will enable federal agencies to continue to deliver on their missions to help sustainably manage America’s forests, both public and private.
“Wildfire control, prevention, protection and management costs totaled $1.8 billion in 2012 according to NASF’s latest state forestry agency survey. State foresters fully appreciate the need for a wise budgeting mechanism, as is proposed in the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act, in order to handle these annual costs.
“More than 25 percent of NASF’s membership—which is comprised of every state forestry agency in the country—names wildfire suppression funding or reducing risks of wildfire impacts as the number one high impact issue facing the agency.
“The practice of transferring funds from non-fire programs continues to undermine America’s ability to deliver the essential benefits to all citizens including wood products, jobs, clean air and water, and wildlife habitat. These benefits are at risk if we don’t stop the destructive cycle of fire transfers.
“This bipartisan bill is supported by a broad coalition of timber, tribal, conservation, recreation, sportsmen and employer groups.”
Read the coalition press release >>