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McCain and Flake Push Congress to Fully Fund Wildfire Suppression

The Arizona Republic

Congressional funding has not kept pace with decades of federal firefighting costs. Now, Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake are pushing to fully pay for suppression efforts. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports. 

The amendmentproposed by McCain and Flake would require Congress to fully fund the increasing costs. It would also end so-called fire borrowing. The U.S. Forest Service and other agencies are forced to raid non-fire-related budgets to cover emergency suppression nearly every year.

The Forest Service has spent more than $2 billion on fire-fighting in 2017, making it the most costly year in the agency’s history. Wildfire suppression now consumes more than half of the total Forest Service budget, up from only 15 percent two decades ago.

More than 8.7 million acres of public land have burned so far in 2017.

Ryan Heinsius was named interim news director and managing editor in January 2024. He joined KNAU's newsroom as an executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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