Today, Congressman John Salazar joined other members of the U.S. House of Representatives in passing the Federal Land Assistance Management and Enhancement Act or FLAME Act. The need for the act arose from an increasing trend in wildfire suppression cost overruns and the resulting depletion of other federal program funding. Wildfire appropriations nearly doubled in FY2001 following a severe fire season in the summer of 2000 and have remained at substantially higher levels. The acres burned annually have also increased over the past 50 years, with the highest in three of the past four years. With emergency supplemental funding, FY2008 wildfire funding was $4.46 billion, more than in any previous year.
The FLAME Act establishes in the Treasury a "Flame Fund" to be made available to the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture to pay the costs of catastrophic emergency wildland fire suppression activities. FLAME funds will also be used to help prevent wildfires before they happen, and will be separate from amounts annually appropriated for predicted wildfire suppression.
On today's passage of the FLAME Act, Congressman Salazar offered the following statement:
"We need to make sure that our brave firefighters are able to receive the funding they need without having to compromise the effectiveness or viability of other government programs," said Congressman Salazar. "Since 2001 there has been a dangerous trend of increased wildfires and we need to be better prepared to protect our forests, our firefighters and the federal budget."