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Governors urge Congress to fix wildfire budget approach

DENVER, Colo. – The Western Governors Association is urging congressional leadership to fix the present approach to budgeting for wildfire costs at the departments of the interior and agriculture.

Governors are concerned that resources continue to be redirected from the very efforts that could prevent and reduce wildfire impacts, costs, and safety risks to firefighters and the public. This year, the U.S. Forest Service has spent more than $2 billion fighting fires, a record for the agency.

The Sept. 22 letter went to Reps. Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi, and Sens. Mitch McConnell and Charles Schumer. It noted the governors’ summarized views by resolution concerning national forest and rangeland management, and the special report of the National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative.

The report highlighted mechanisms to bring states, federal land managers, private landowners and other stakeholders together to discuss issues and opportunities in forest and rangeland management

“Failure to enact comprehensive wildfire budget reform continues to create unacceptable outcomes for taxpayers and at-risk communities and fails to reflect responsible stewardship of federal land,” the association wrote.

Western states include more than 75 percent of the national forest and grassland system.

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