Bad fire season running through US firefighting budget

AP News
Posted: Aug 14, 2015 3:00 PM
Bad fire season running through US firefighting budget

DENVER (AP) — The Obama administration says wildfires have been so bad this season that the Forest Service will exhaust its firefighting budget next week and will again have to tap into other programs for more money.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, whose department includes the Forest Service, said Friday Congress needs to change the way it funds firefighting.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Vilsack said firefighting costs are consuming an ever-greater share of the agency's budget, taking money away from programs that could help prevent wildfires.

The House passed a bill last month that would let the Forest Service tap into federal disaster funds when its firefighting budget is empty. Vilsack said that doesn't address the longer-term problem of the firefighting budget devouring a bigger share of the total each year.