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US Forest Service Spends Half of Budget to Fight Wildfires

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 2.08.41 PMFor the first time ever, the U.S. Forest Service is spending more than half of its budget to suppress wildfires. And a new report says in 10 years the Forest Service will be spending over two-thirds of its budget to battle wildfires.

According to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, “(The Forest Service is) not in a position to do the restoration and resiliency work that’s important and necessary, not just to keep our forests healthy, but also to reduce the risk of these intense, enormous fires that we are now fighting.”

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 2.08.49 PMHe also says natural and human factors are increasing the cost of fighting fires. “We now have more communities that have been located in and around one of our forests. Hazardous fuels build up has increased in part because of climate change. We see drier conditions. There’s also the issue of the beetle infestation in the western part of the United States that’s impacted 45 million acres of trees.”

The Forest Service report says fire seasons are now 78 days longer than they were in the 1970s and the cost of fire suppression is expected to grow to $1.8 billion by 2025.

For WeatherNation: John Van Pelt

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