Senator John Walsh is fighting to help ensure land management agencies receive more resources to fight fire suppression and hazardous fuel reduction.
Walsh is supporting the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act amendment to the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act of 2014 the Senate is currently considering.
Under current law land management agencies are forced to borrow from other accounts to pay for fire suppression. The Wildfire Disaster Funding Act treats catastrophic wildfires like other major natural disasters for funding purposes, which prevents emergency wildfire spending from draining conservation and forest management programs that can help prevent future fires.
"This is a great example of Democrats and Republicans coming together to support our firefighters and protect our communities," Walsh said. "It is our responsibility to ensure we create a stable budget and adequately fund our firefighters to the levels they need."
Wildfire management costs are rising 22 percent each year and are taking up an increasing share of the Forest Service's budget.
Walsh, a 33-year veteran of the Montana National Guard, coordinated wildfire response efforts in the summer of 2000 when over one million acres of Montana's forest were ablaze.
The Wildlife Disaster Funding Act would:
· Classify extreme wildfires as natural disasters, enabling the use of federal emergency dollars to fund excessive suppression costs
· Prevent disruptive funding transfers, restoring functionality to vital forestry management, fire prevention, and conservation programs
· Establish clear criteria on what suppression activities merit funding under the disaster cap
· Create a more stable budget strategy to manage wildfire prevention programs