In the past decade, wildfires have increased in frequency and severity, burning 57 percent more land than in the previous four decades, the fire season is two months longer, and the average size of fires is five times greater than in the 1970s. In order to protect communities in the wildland urban interface, significant levels of funding – particularly wildfire prevention – is needed to address this increase in frequency and severity of wildfires.
Communities surrounded by public lands hurt economically when the U.S. Forest Service and Department of Interior transfer funding away from important functions like fire prevention and maintenance on recreation infrastructure for fire suppression.
But, The Mountain Pact is excited to share that on March 23, 2018, the Fiscal Year 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act (2018 Omnibus) included a provision called the Wildfire and Disaster Funding Adjustment. This action finally dedicates appropriate funding for wildfire mitigation and forest management and allows dollars appropriated for recreation programs, maintenance, and infrastructure to stay in those accounts.
MOUNTAIN PACT ACTION
The Mountain Pact is working closely with our towns to ensure a comprehensive fire funding fix.
- In fall of 2014, communities including Aspen, Vail, and Durango in Colorado, Park City, Utah, Ketchum, Idaho, Lake Tahoe, Nevada/California, and Bend, Oregon, sent individual letters to and met with their respective Congressional delegations in support of wildfire funding reforms. Together, we submitted a letter to Congressional leadership, which you can read here.
- In fall 2015, Park City and Lake Tahoe submitted individual letters to their Congressmen in support of action for funding reforms.
- In fall 2016, the Mountain Pact release a new report, Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities: Protecting Western Forests in the Era of Climate Change and Wildfire.
- On October 31,2016 fourteen towns sent a letter to Congressional leadership pointing out the impact that shrinking Forest Service and Interior Department budgets have on our western mountain towns urging them to take this into account in the fall budget negotiations.
- In June 2017 the Mountain Pact spoke to the importance of finding a comprehensive wildfire funding fix for mountain communities.
- Friday, March 23, 2018 Congress passed an Omnibus spending bill that included a legislative change to ensure a reliable stream of funding for fighting catastrophic wildfires to avoid the disruptive practice of “fire borrowing” and address the continued erosion of land management programs that results from the increasing suppression levels.
If you are interested in more information about this or The Mountain Pact in general, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.