State Foresters Praise Wildfire Suppression Funding Legislation

WASHINGTON, DC — (Marketwire) — 03/11/09 — Yesterday House and Senate leadersintroduced bipartisan legislation designed to alleviate funding problemscaused by emergency wildland fire costs. The Federal Land Assistance,Management and Enhancement Act (FLAME Act) (H.R. 1404) was introduced inthe U.S. House of Representatives by U.S. Reps. Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), RalGrijalva (D-AZ), Norm Dicks (D-WA), Mike Simpson (R-ID), and Greg Walden(R-OR). Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Barbara Boxer(D-CA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Jon Tester (D-MT), TomUdall (D-NM), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) co-sponsored the Senate bill. TheNational Association of State Foresters (NASF) supports the bill andapplauds these Congressional leaders for working to solve one of thenation’s most pressing forest conservation problems.

For years NASF has been a leading advocate for a comprehensive solution tothe escalating cost of wildland fire protection and the associated negativeimpacts on forest conservation efforts. In a collaborative effort withother conservation, wildlife and forest products groups, NASF helpedestablish a Fire Suppression Funding Solutions Coalition that now consistsof nearly 100 diverse organizations. The coalition has worked to educateCongress on the importance of addressing the concerns of wildland firefighting, promoting prevention as well as suppression, and meeting theneeds of communities.

The FLAME Act addresses the escalating costs of wildfire by creating agovernment fund for devastating emergency wildland fires that is separatefrom normal wildland fire suppression funds appropriated for the U.S.Forest Service and the Department of the Interior. The largest, mostdevastating wildfires are only one percent of all wildfires, yet theyconsume 95% of all acres and 85% of suppression costs. Creating a separatefund allows these extraordinary, emergency fires to be treated the same wayas other natural disasters.

“The FLAME Act is an important solution because the cost of emergencywildfires prevents critical forest conservation work from being done acrossthe nation on all lands — public and private,” said Leah W. MacSwords,NASF President and State Forester of Kentucky.

President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2010 budget outline included increasedfunding for fire suppression activities as well as $282 million in acontingency account for emergency expenditures. The FLAME Act would providethe framework for that contingency funding and ensure that this type ofpartitioned account continues in the future.

“NASF is encouraged by Congressional action on this issue and urges swiftpassage of the FLAME Act. The diversity and commitment of the FireSuppression Coalition proves that solving this issue benefits everyone,”said Jay Farrell, NASF Executive Director.

The National Association of State Foresters is comprised of the directorsof state and territorial forestry agencies and the District of Columbia.Through public-private partnership, NASF seeks to advance sustainableforestry, conservation, and protection of forest lands and their associatedresources.

(888) 688-9880