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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Senate Appropriations Bill Takes Positive Steps to Improve Wildfire Disaster Funding

Below is a news release issued by The Nature Conservancy regarding wildfire disaster funding. Key to this effort is language that allows for access to the disaster cap.

Senate Appropriations Bill Takes Positive Steps to Improve Wildfire Disaster Funding

June 22, 2015 (Arlington, Va.) — The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved its FY2016 appropriations measure yesterday. In addition to ensuring wildfire suppression activities are fully funded in FY2016, the bill provides a disaster cap adjustment for wildfire fighting activities, which would fund certain wildfires similarly to other natural disasters.

The bill will be available for consideration by the full Senate Committee on Appropriations tomorrow. 

“The Senate’s Interior appropriations bill takes a significant step forward in helping to solve the fire funding problem, by funding a portion of wildfires like other natural disasters,” said Cecilia Clavet of The Nature Conservancy, on behalf of the Fire Suppression Funding Solutions Partner Caucus. “We are grateful for the leadership of subcommittee’s Chairwoman Murkowski, Ranking Member Udall and other committee members for helping break the “fire borrowing’ cycle which would allow agencies to focus more resources on important work such as reducing wildfire risk.”

Quotes from some of the many organizations supporting the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act:
“We applaud the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies for including important language on wildfire funding. The bill would not only provide emergency relief funding to protect our communities from more frequent and severe wildfires, but would also ensure that fire funding does not impact urgently needed resources for recreation infrastructure on federal lands - the crux of our local economies.” – Diana Madson, Executive Director of the Mountain Pact

“We are very pleased that the Subcommittee recognizes in their Bill, the reality that large wildfires are natural disasters, and should be funded as such. We are hopeful Congress as a whole will act to improve the health of the nation's forests, by taking similar action.” – Hank Kashdan, Legislative Director, National Association of Forest Service Retirees

“We applaud Senator Murkowski for her leadership in including critical fire cap adjustment language in the Senate Interior Appropriations bill. This is an important step in stopping future transfers and ensuring needed active forest management work is accomplished to improve the resiliency of our forests to uncharacteristic wildfire.” – Jay Farrell, Executive Director of the National Association of State Foresters

“Nearly 14,000 cabin owners on the National Forests are acutely affected by the threat and reality of wildfires. They applaud this very positive step towards improving wildfire suppression and more reasonable funding of wildfire fighting efforts.” – Aubrey King, Washington Representative for the National Forest Homeowners

“We appreciate the Subcommittee’s efforts on this important issue. Congress can stop fire borrowing and its harmful effects this year. Our forests and forestry professionals should not have to wait any longer for responsible and stable budgeting.” – Bob Alverts, President of the Society of American Foresters

“Providing access to disaster funding for emergency wildfires is a tremendous step forward in addressing this fire funding problem. It will limit the practice of ‘fire borrowing’ and therefore help make sure forest, recreation, and conservation programs do not suffer when suppression funds are depleted. We hope the House bill will follow suit, and look forward to working with the full Congress on a solution to this urgent and critical problem.” -- Kameran Onley, Director of U.S. Government Relations for The Nature Conservancy

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