November 09, 2007

CRAPO CALLS FOR SUFFICIENT FIREFIGHTING FUNDS FOR WILDLAND FIRES IN IDAHO

Sends letters to Interior, Agriculture Secretaries

Washington, DC - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo wants to ensure that sufficient funds are made available for wildland fire management in Idaho, including recovery and rehabilitation efforts underway from this year's fires. In letters sent to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Connor, Crapo noted that the funds are crucial for fighting and recovery from wildland fires in the state. Wildland Fire Management funds in the Fiscal Year 2008 Continuing Resolution are designated for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the Department of the Interior, and the U.S. Forest Service in the Department of Agriculture. The Continuing Resolution was passed last night as part of the Defense Appropriations bill.

"It is my hope that some of this newly-appropriated assistance will be used for firefighting efforts in Idaho, including emergency wildfire suppression and the replenishment of depleted resources that were expended for fighting fires in 2007," Crapo said in the letters.

Idaho has had a particularly brutal fire season this year. There were 904 fires in Idaho which burned approximately 1.72 million acres of land. Fighting large fires cost the U.S. Forest Service and the BLM nearly $150 million in Idaho. This figure does not include expenditures to fight fires subdued by an initial attack or for fires contained within a small area.

Both departments will receive an increase in the funds available for firefighting efforts. The Continuing Resolution contains funding at $329 million above the 2007 level for the Department of Agriculture for emergency wildfire suppression, hazardous fuel reduction, the rehabilitation and restoration of federal lands and facilities and replenishing funds that have been exhausted fighting fires in 2007. The Department of the Interior has been funded $171 million above the 2007 level for the same purposes.

"With devastating wildland fires, the primary emergency response garners the most attention, but the need for adequate funding is ongoing to mitigate the damage and prevent similar tragedies in the future," Crapo said. "I want to ensure the needs of Idahoans and affected lands are not overlooked after the fires themselves have died down. I look forward to working with Secretaries Kempthorne and Conner to address the needs of Idaho communities."

Copies of the letters accompany this news release.