FLAME Act Passes House; Crucial Wildfire Prevention Bill Now Moves on to Senate
Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed legislation to establish an emergency federal fund to fight increasingly frequent catastrophic wildland fires.
The bipartisan Federal Land Assistance, Management, and Enhancement Act (FLAME Act), H.R. 1404, will serve as a separate emergency fund to relieve the growing strain on existing agency budgets. Dubbed the “FLAME Fund,” the new resources can only be accessed when the Department of Agriculture or Department of the Interior issues a wildfire emergency declaration, which is determined by the size, severity, and threat of the individual fire to the public.
Mark Davis, Legislative Director of NFFE’s Forest Service Council, has spent years making the case for a separate emergency fund:
“For years we have had no choice but to rob Peter to pay Paul,” said Davis. “With a separate fund to draw from in the event of an emergency, we will no longer have to sacrifice other crucial land management missions that are essential to the safety and wellbeing of our national forests.”
Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva, an original sponsor of the legislation, took a similar tone when discussing the necessity of the bill:
“The cost of fighting catastrophic wildfires on public lands has engulfed federal agency budgets,” stated Grijalva. “Public land managers must have the resources for prevention and protection of communities without destroying their day to day operational budget. We cannot financially or environmentally afford to always be on the defensive when it comes to wildland fires.”
The Obama Administration has indicated its support for the funding approach used in the FLAME Act. The bill is now under review by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.