April 2, 2015

Groups Urge Appropriations for Wildfire Suppression Funding

On March 25, 26 organizations, including the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and numerous other sportsmen conservation groups, sent a letter to Chairman, Congressman Ken Calvert (CA), a Member of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC), and Ranking Member, Congresswoman Betty McCullum (MN), of the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, requesting sufficient funding for wildfire risk reduction and protection programs in the fiscal year (FY) 2016 appropriations.

According to the letter, in 2014, 63,612 wildfires burned more than 3.6 million acres. The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) had to prepare to transfer funds from non-fire programs to pay for fire suppression, which stops land management work and contracts that are critical to preventing and mitigating future wildfires.

The signed-on groups requested language from the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act (WDFA) to be included in the FY 2016 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill which would fund a portion of the Forest Service and Department of Interior (DOI) wildfire suppression costs through a budget cap adjustment under the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985. Specifically, the groups urge $479 million from the Forest Service and $178 million for the DOI to go toward wildfire suppression funding.

The letter suggests that, “short-term savings realized by cuts to any one of these programs is substantially outweighed by the ultimate increase in suppression costs and damages caused by wildland fires.”

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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