Dec 17, 2015 8:20 PM by News Staff
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Budget legislation that's speeding toward approval in Congress includes an additional $600 million to fight wildfires next year but no long-term fix to firefighting's havoc on the U.S. Forest Service budget.
The Forest Service spent a record $1.7 billion fighting fires this year. Year after year, the agency must borrow from other programs to keep up with ever-growing cost of fighting fires.
The Obama administration wants to address the problem by treating wildfires like other types of natural disasters for funding purposes.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, supports a long-term solution, but she says paying for wildfires like the government's response to hurricanes and tornadoes needs more review.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Robert Bonnie calls the funding increase a Band-Aid solution that also neglects to make forests more resilient to fire.
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