Weekly newspaper of Three Rivers, California, and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks

Proposed federal budget includes increase for Wildland Fire Management Program

By: 
Sarah Elliott

 

PHOTOS CAPTION: Ignited by lightning on July 31, 2015, the Rough Fire devastated over 150,000 acres of land and entered the Grant Grove in Kings Canyon National Park. The fire was stopped upon entering the popular grove of giant sequoias due to lack of fuel from previous prescribed burns. The National Park Service will benefit from the proposed increase in the Fuels Management Program budget.

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This week, President Trump requested $919.9 million in appropriations for the Department of the Interior’s Wildland Fire Management Program. The proposal for Fiscal Year 2020 (October 1, 2019, through September 30, 2020) represents a strategic investment in efforts to protect people and reduce the risk of wildfire through active management of federal and tribal lands.

 
The proposed budget includes $194 million for the Fuels Management program, an increase of $10 million over the FY 2019 budget. 
 
The FY 2020 budget proposal also includes $383.7 million for the Suppression Operations program. Actual resource allocation between DOI and the Forest Service will ultimately depend on suppression needs in the event of a severe wildfire season. Last year, more than 52,000 wildfires burned 8.5 million acres of federal, tribal, state, and private lands. 
 
Total federal spending on suppression topped $3.1 billion, the largest amount ever. DOI’s portion of that expenditure was $528.4 million.
 
The FY 2020 budget proposal also funds several Wildland Fire Management activities, including:
 
—Fire Preparedness, $332.8 million
The Fire Preparedness program funds firefighting resources such as aviation assets, equipment, personnel, training, and the services and technology that enable firefighters to safely and effectively manage wildfires. The requested level of funding would allow DOI to maintain an effective level of preparedness. This includes supporting more than 2,000 firefighters who safely and effectively respond to wildfires. In addition, the program funds the use of unmanned aircraft systems to support wildfire operations through mapping, monitoring, data relay, traffic management, and the analysis of fire behavior to support the safety of the public and firefighters.
 
—Burned Area Rehabilitation, $9.5 million
Post-wildfire rehabilitation is critical to the long-term restoration and improvement of landscapes damaged by wildfire. The Burned Area Rehabilitation program funds the reseeding or planting of vegetation to prevent erosion and the introduction of invasive species; soil monitoring to ensure proper vegetation growth; minor repairs to infrastructure such as signs, footbridges and trails; and monitoring work to assess effectiveness. The FY 2020 request funds the treatment of approximately 250,000 acres of the most vulnerable and highest priority burned landscapes.
 
DOI’s Wildland Fire Management Program is comprised of the Office of Wildland Fire and four bureaus with wildland fire management responsibilities: National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Indian Affairs.
 
To view the complete FY 2020 budget request for the DOI Wildland Fire Management Program, visit www.doi.gov/wildlandfire.
 
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