February 03, 2016

Wyden, Crapo: Fix Wildfire Funding Before It’s Too Late

Senators Offer Bipartisan Amendment to Finally End Fire Transfers and Fund Wildfires Like Other Natural Disasters

View Video of Sen. Wyden’s Remarks Here

Washington, D.C. – Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Senator Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, took to the Senate floor last night to renew their bipartisan call for a permanent fix to wildfire funding, and to end the senseless practice of raiding fire prevention and other Forest Service accounts just to fight this year’s fires.  

Wyden and Crapo introduced an amendment to the energy bill currently on the Senate floor that would end fire borrowing for good, stop the erosion of the Forest Service budget and ramp up fire prevention projects, thereby reducing wildfire risks and fire suppression costs.

 “Fire borrowing doesn’t just threaten fire prevention and suppression – it’s budgetary quicksand that is dragging down every program at the Forest Service: timber sales, stream restoration, trail maintenance, recreation and others,” Wyden said.

“We know that disaster-scale wildfires are going to continue to be a threat.  We can better prepare for the increasing costs of wildland fire suppression by providing land managers and fire fighters the certainty needed to plan and allocate resources properly without robbing from other priorities during each fire season,” said Crapo.

Wyden and Crapo worked with lawmakers from both parties and from both the House and Senate to forge the amendment, which is a compromise proposal that updates their Wildfire Disaster Funding Act. That bill has support from 21 cosponsors in the Senate, 145 cosponsors in the House and more than 250 groups representing hunters and fishers, timber companies and conservationists. Although a spending bill passed in December increased fire funding for one year, it still leaves agencies vulnerable to fire transfers, does not solve the problem long term, and does little to hold down-long term firefighting costs.  

A summary of the amendment can be found here. The amendment text is here.