SAF and Broad Coalition Praise Introduction of Senate Wildfire Funding Bill 

September 20, 2017

SAF and the Partner Caucus on Fire Suppression Funding Solutions, a broad, bipartisan coalition of conservation, timber, tribal, recreation, sportsmen and employer groups, praised Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jim Risch (R-ID), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Michael Bennet (D-CO), for introducing the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act of 2017. The bill, which is similar to legislation introduced in the House in June (HR 2862), would change how the federal government budgets for the suppression of large wildfires to make that process similar to the way other disasters are funded. 

“Thank you again to the many members of Congress who continue to call attention to this critical issue,” said Frederick Cubbage, President of the Society of American Foresters. “Without a comprehensive budgetary solution to wildfire funding, key programs that improve forest health, spur innovation, and energize local economies will continue to be stymied. Solutions like the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act will help forestry and natural resources professionals move forward and get back to proactive and effective forest management.”

This bill’s new approach to wildfire suppression funding would help avoid the disruptive practice of “fire borrowing.” But most importantly, it addresses the continued erosion of land management programs that results from the increasing suppression levels. The combination of cutting into programs when budgeting and then “borrowing” from those programs when suppression runs out toward the end of the year undermines the Department of the Interior and the USDA Forest Service, making it near impossible to meet their land management goals – including wildfire prevention programs that actually reduce wildfire risk and costs. 

To read the Senate news release, click here