July 15, 2014

Crapo Testifies On Bipartisan, Bicameral Fix For Fire Funding

Says bill puts western communities on improved footing to face current and future fires

Washington, D.C. -Idaho Senator Mike Crapo's legislation to fix a fundamental flaw in the way the federal government funds wildfire suppression was the focus of a Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee hearing today.  Appearing before the committee, Crapo discussed his legislation, S. 1875, the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act, and addressed members on the critical need to end the costly and destructive cycle of underfunding forest management efforts vital to preventing future fires and minimizing overall suppression costs. 

 "As more resources go toward fire suppression, other resources that could be used to implement projects that improve forest health, benefit forest communities and enhance public safety are squeezed.  In fact, in eight of the past ten years, federal agencies' fire suppression efforts have been under-budgeted, which has led to resources being taken from important projects to cover the federal government's response to wildland fires. What's worse is that Congress must restore this funding through off-the-books emergency spending, which is ineffective and bad budgetary policy.

"The Wildfire Disaster Funding Act would give firefighters and land managers more tools for efficient and effective fire management and strengthen fire prevention efforts. . . without increasing federal funding."

Crapo's testimony comes as fire season is already well underway, with thousands of acres burning across central Idaho.  The National Interagency Fire Center, located in Boise, recently issued its National Wildland Significant Fire Potential Outlook, finding that above normal fire potential will persist over much of California, the Northwest and the Great Basin in the coming months. Most recently, eighteen fires, three of which are considered large-scale, were sparked over the weekend in the Boise National Forest.

The measure, introduced in the Senate by Crapo and ENR Members Senators Ron Wyden and Jim Risch, is widely supported by the Idaho Congressional Delegation, policy makers on both sides of the aisle and over 230 timber, sportsmen and conservation groups.  Representative Mike Simpson has introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

View the segment on YouTube here.