Forest Service Seeks More Funding for Fighting Fires
A recent report by the US Forest Service says in 10 years two-thirds of its budget will be used to fight wildfires. As Arizona Public Radio’s Justin Regan reports, a bill in the US Senate is designed to address the increasing costs of fighting fire in the nation’s forests.
The Flame Act Amendments would allow the Forest Service to take money from the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund to fight wildfires. Under the current system, when the Forest Service exceeds its firefighting budget the agency takes funding from other areas, including forest thinning.
The Forest Service currently spends more than half its budget on fighting wildfires. That’s up from 16 percent of its budget in 1995.
Senator John McCain was among three senators who introduced the Flame Act amendments. He calls the current system “unsustainable”. The Forest Service says Climate change has extended the fire season by 78 days since 1970 and the 6 worst fires in the last 50 years have all been since 2000.