Tipton Supports Wildfire Disaster Funding Act
Reinforcing his support for proactive forest management, Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03) signed on as an original cosponsor of the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act (H.R. 2862), a bill that would reform the federal budgeting process for wildfire prevention and suppression efforts.
“For too long, the process the federal government has used to allocate money to fight catastrophic wildfires has undermined forest management efforts that could prevent these types of fires from igniting in the first place,” said Tipton. “By changing the way money is appropriated for agencies’ firefighting efforts, we can end the ‘fire-borrowing’ practice that has robbed the Forest Service and other land management agencies of the resources they need for active management.”
Congress currently sets funding for wildfire suppression based on the average of the annual firefighting costs over the previous ten-years. If firefighting costs exceed an agency’s budget, it must shift money from non-firefighting accounts to make up the difference. Fewer resources are then left to support the active forest management that helps prevent catastrophic wildfires.
The Wildfire Disaster Funding Act would treat wildfires like other natural disasters after an agency’s wildfire suppression funds are exhausted. The cost of any “extraordinary” firefighting that goes beyond the agency’s annual budget would be funded through a budget cap adjustment similar to what is currently used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for other natural disasters.
During a recent hearing in the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands, Tipton questioned Mr. Lyle Laverty, Former Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, about the impact the current budget process has had on reforestation efforts.
Laverty said, “I really believe as I look around and talk to folks across the country – one of our big challenges comes in reforestation after burns. And part of it goes back to this wildfire funding issue. We don’t have the resources in place to be able to bring back actual reforestation of these burned areas.”
Watch his full remarks here.
Tipton has been a long-time advocate of empowering states and local communities to collaborate with the federal government to restore forest health and reduce the risks of catastrophic wildfires. Language from Tipton’s bill to support this collaboration, the Healthy Forest Management Act, passed the House of Representatives as part of the Resilient Federal Forest Act in the 114th Congress.