Tester statement on wildfire report

(U.S. Senate) – Senator Jon Tester today released the following statement after the U.S. Forest Service released its report on the rising cost of fighting wildfires:

“Today’s report underscores what we’ve known about fighting fires in our national forests for years. We have to start using common sense and budget for catastrophic wildfires like we do for hurricanes and other natural disasters. Because Congress hasn’t acted, the Forest Service is on its way to being nothing but a fire fighting agency, and folks who make a living on our public lands are paying the price.”

According to today’s report, wildfire costs have consumed 52 percent of the Forest Service’s budget for 2015, compared with just 16 percent 20 years ago. The report also projects that wildfire costs could consume two thirds of the agency’s budget in 2025.

Tester sponsored the bipartisan Wildfire Disaster Funding Act to pay for catastrophic wildfires through separate emergency fund, allowing the Forest Service to devote more resources to proactive forest management.

The U.S. Forest Service wildfire report can be found online HERE.