On December 19, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) introduced the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act of 2013 (S 1875), intended to minimize the distortions introduced into federal land management agency budgets due to the need for internal emergency allocations for wildfire suppression during disastrous fire seasons. The bill responds to the reality that wildfire suppression costs cannot realistically be budgeted within normal land management budgets. It proposes that any fire suppression spending that exceeds 70% of the 10-year average should be provided from a dedicated disaster funding account separate from Forest Service and Interior Department budgets.
The intent is to enable those agencies to dedicate authorized funds to fire prevention and fuel reduction projects, in the assurance that it will not be necessary to redirect those funds to expensive and unpredictable fire suppression. Senators Wyden and Crapo hope to have the provision included in the Senate Interior Appropriations bill for 2014.