Wildfire ‘borrowing’ addressed in legislation

Congress’ new omnibus appropriations bill includes a fund to cover the soaring costs of wildfire suppression. ©John McColgan

To tackle the issues that ‘fire borrowing’ has created with other U.S. Forest Service operations, a broad coalition of legislators worked together to create a new eight-year source of funding in the recently passed omnibus appropriations bill.

Wildland fire funding has recently consumed more than half the annual Forest Service budget. The legislation, which President Trump signed March 23, changes the way wildfires are funded and expedites management actions on federal lands to prevent large wildfires. It budgets about $1 billion a year for fire suppression, and if those funds are depleted, establishes a new funding source, initially including $2.25 billion and increasing by $100 million each year until 2027. Legislators hope this new funding source will help the Forest Service maintain programs like research and development and the land purchases program.

Read more on this issue from Reuters and the USDA press release.