Legislation Would Fundamentally Fix Wildfire Budgeting, Ensure Mitigation Programs Not Drained Due to Firefighting Expenses
U.S. Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet pressed congressional leaders today to allow an up-or-down vote on a bipartisan, common-sense proposal to end the practice of "fire borrowing." The Wildfire Disaster Funding Act would codify steps the president has already taken to ensure that firefighting expenses do not undermine federal fire-prevention and mitigation efforts.
"This bill would end the dysfunctional and destructive approach towards funding wildfire fighting. The current cycle of underfunding, and even raiding, programs used for critical forest restoration and wildfire prevention work results in having to spend even greater amounts fighting ever larger and more severe wildfires. This legislation's overarching policy goal is one of good budgeting. The reality is that the government has historically — and will in the future — fully fund fire suppression," the lawmakers wrote. "But it is inefficient and ineffective to provide those resources on an ad hoc basis and as a result of taking those funds from other critical budget accounts. Budgeting in this manner does not allow for appropriate planning and ultimately does not provide for an effective allocation of funds to fight wildfires or take care of the national forests."
To read the letter, which Udall and Bennet co-signed, click HERE.
Bennet and Udall have led efforts in Congress to help Colorado communities mitigate the risk of wildfire and secure resources to fight fires. They also have worked to help Colorado communities rebuild and repair watersheds in the wake of recent wildfires and other natural disasters.