The following is a statement from Pete Nelson, Senior Federal Lands Policy Advisor, Defenders of Wildlife:
“This report illustrates the tremendous impact of rising firefighting costs on our ability to conserve and restore our national forests. When the Forest Service spends one-half of every dollar fighting fires, there is scant funding left for everything else the agency must do, including conserving fish, wildlife and their habitat. Since 1995, as firefighting costs have grown to take up the majority of spending on national forests, fish and wildlife conservation investments have declined by one-fifth.
“Given the rising costs of fighting wildland fires, the existing failed approach to budgeting for firefighting is badly broken and needs to change. It is time for Congress to fix the fire budget by passing the proposed Wildfire Disaster Funding Act. Doing so will allow the Forest Service to responsibly address wildland fires and invest in programs that will conserve and restore our national forests and the wildlife that depend on them.”