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Nature Conservancy Recognizes Crapo for Leading Wildfire Funding Reforms

Group Awards Crapo With Conservation Champion Award

WASHINGTON – In recognition of his leadership to bring an end to the dangerous practice known as fire borrowing, The Nature Conservancy of Idaho today recognized Idaho Senator Mike Crapo with its Conservation Champion Award. 

Crapo’s legislation, cosponsored by Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and supported also by Idaho Senator Jim Risch, was the result of more than five years of work bringing together bipartisan stakeholders from both houses of Congress, the Administration and external stakeholders like the Nature Conservancy.  The legislation was in response to the federal government failing to fund wildfire suppression like it does with any number of other natural disasters that impact communities.  As a result, the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management engaged in a debilitating practice known as fire borrowing—essentially taking money from other priorities like trail or forest maintenance and spending it instead on fire suppression.  This results in a compounding effect, in which preventative maintenance needs that lessen the risks and impacts of future fires are unable to be addressed, and thus we see hotter and more costly fires each year.  The Crapo-Wyden bill stops this practice and now allows fire suppression to be treated like the natural disasters that they are.  The passage of the Crapo-Wyden legislation is especially timely as the most recent outlook report from the National Interagency Fire Center concludes that this year’s fire season is expected to be more severe than last year. 

“This has been a bipartisan bill  from the outset,” said Crapo.  “Thanks to the input of other groups like the Nature Conservancy, our legislation will end the dangerous and debilitating practice of fire borrowing, which robbed funds from the other, important functions of the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.  Now, we will respond to wildfires and treat them as we do other catastrophic disasters.” 

In addition to his bipartisan fire borrowing accomplishment, Crapo is also pushing to include greater funding of several collaboration groups across Idaho in the Senate version of the Farm Bill reauthorization.  These collaborative groups bring together diverse stakeholders including the federal government, land and property owners and environmental and resource advocacy group.  Together, these groups join to develop jointly support proposals for managing and preserving Idaho’s forest lands.  These collaboration groups were launched by Crapo more than a decade ago and are active on matters related to lands and forests including the Clearwater Basin, Panhandle Forest, Boise and Caribou-Targhee forests.

2018 Nature Conservancy Award

 Pictured, from left to right, with Crapo is Will Whelan, Director of Government Relations for The Nature Conservancy of Idaho; Harry Hagey; Toni Hardesty, State Director; Nancy MacKinnon, Chair of The Nature Conservancy of Idaho Board of Trustees; Bill Rogers, Trustee; and Brett Stevenson, Trustee.

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