May 17, 2016 8:46 AM by News Staff
(AP) The nation's primary wildfire-fighters say California could face a dangerous and difficult fire season this year despite a relatively wet winter.
U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Tuesday that a five-year drought has left 40 million dead and fire-prone trees in California.
They said 29 million trees died last year alone. Vilsack said California's forests need much more rain and snow to recover fully from the drought.
Sounding frustrated and impatient, Vilsack repeated his plea for Congress to pay the cost of fighting the worst fires from disaster emergency funds, not the Forest Service budget.
He said firefighting consumed more than half the Forest Service budget last year, robbing money from forest management and other programs.
The Forest Service is part of the Agriculture Department.