Earlier this summer, the Administration requested additional funding for emergency wildfire suppression activities. Without the additional funding, federal fire-fighting agencies including the Forest Service will be forced to rob funding allocated for wildfire prevention. While ensuring our nation’s fire fighters have sufficient funds to fight wildfires at the peak of fire season may seem like common sense, Congress left for its annual August break without allocating the money.
Not everyone in Congress opposed the funding request. Senate Appropriators produced a bill to immediately provide $615 million for wildfire suppression. But the bill fell to partisan wrangling; the wildfire provisions were combined with funding for the migrant crisis at the southern border, and the parties could not agree how to pay for it.
Since 2002, we have overspent our federal wildfire suppression budget every year except one. We cannot continue on this unsustainable course. Dipping into prevention money undermines our ongoing efforts to prepare for and reduce the severity of wildfires.
Congress returns from its August break the week of September 8. As their first order of business Congress must provide emergency funding so our nation’s wildland fire fighters can do their jobs. The federal government has an obligation to help communities ravaged by fire; the safety of our homes and families are at stake. To ignore the matter further would be downright disgraceful.