Saturday, March 14, 2009

Congress considers fund to fight catastrophic wildfires

Environment News Service: Legislation that would establish a permanent fund for fighting catastrophic wildland fires was reintroduced in Congress this week in anticipation of what is projected to be yet another record fire season.

Democrats Congressmen Nick Rahall of West Virginia and Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico to reintroduce the Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement Act, called the FLAME Act. The measure would establish a new federal fund to cover the growing costs associated with fighting wildland fire emergencies. The House approved a similar bill in the last session of Congress, but it died in the Senate.

"Fire seasons on public lands are getting longer and more intense, putting American lives and our treasured public lands in harm's way. Fighting these fires is eroding other non-fire programs and impacting the core mission of the Federal land management agencies - turning our Forest Service into the Fire Service," said Rahall, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.

"This legislation will help ensure that America's brave firefighters have the necessary tools to continue putting out fires with minimal damage to life and property," he said. "The costs for fighting wildfires are rising rapidly, and this escalation is eroding other programs and impacting the core mission of our land management agencies, particularly the Forest Service," said Bingaman, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee….

Green Knoll Wildfire in Jackson, Wyoming, closeup picture - from , # NI009067, Bureau of Land Management

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