Wildfires Challenge US Forest Service Program Budget

Washington, DC (August 16, 2013) – The U.S. is in the midst of another tragic and unprecedented fire season, which likely still has several more months of activity and is already straining federal budgets. Last week U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell sent a notification to transfer $600M from forest management, restoration, and public service programs to make up for the wildfire suppression budget shortfall. These adjustments will impact funding for our nation’s forests and urban forests, including local efforts.  You can take action. Ask Congress to provide immediate funding to first responders and implement a long-term solution to fire suppression shortfalls.

forest firesThis is the second year in a row, during a time of constrained budgets, that transfers are being used to balance budgets, and the current $600M transfer is not expected to get the nation through FY2013. There are 51 large uncontained fires burning across the nation, making it tough to meet demands for fire crews and equipment. See the letter from Chief Tidwell and accompanying table outlining a three-phase strategy.

A coalition of national organizations who care about forest funding is asking Congress to take action. If you would like to sign-on to an advocacy letter, below are links to the congressional letters. They include both short- and long-term requests, including:

1) immediate emergency supplemental of at least $600M;
2) address any fire suppression budget shortfalls in the FY 2014 appropriations process; and
3) establish a long-term solution for fire suppression funding by treating and funding wildfires like any other federal emergency.

To review these letters click for House Letter and Senate Letter. The deadline for signing on has been extended through this week. Use this link to sign the Congressional Letter on FY2013 Fire Transfers.

Related Resources
FLAME Act of 2009
Feds running out of wildfire money