23 Feb 2009, 12:08pm
Federal forest policy
by admin

Wildland Fire Costs Petition

by John F. Marker

Your Assistance is Needed:

As you know the cost of wildland firefighting for the federal land management agencies has been increasing as weather, fuel conditions, shortage of firefighting resources and other factors have increased fire size, resource damage,loss of homes and watershed losses in recent years.

When the cost of firefighting exceeds the agency’s fires fighting budget the agencies have to use their operational budgets to cover the extra costs. This requirement has devastated agency programs such as forest health, recreation, wildlife habitat improvement, watershed protection, fire prevention and environmental research. It also seriously cut assistance to the states for forest and range management an fire protection and forest health programs on state and private lands.

A Fire Suppression Funding Coalition, comprised of major national and regional conservation organizations, has developed a statement of principles for solving this critical issue that will be shared with members of Congress as they work to resolve the funding problem. We would ask that you review the principles and encourage your members of Congress to consider these principles as they work to resolve the problem of funding firefighting for the federal agencies.

The cost of fighting wildland fires is high, but the values at risk in terms of threats to human life, natural resources, homes and businesses and the economy are much greater. For example, in the January 2009 Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition’s Economic Stimulus Program paper, the economic value of water from the National Forests is listed as $29 Billion per year, and the value of recreation from these lands is at least $7.49 billion and adds $98 billion to the Nation’s GDP.

The National Association of Forest Service Retirees would appreciate your support of the principles presented in the attached paper through encouragement to your members of Congress to resolve this serious fire protection problem.

John F. Marker, Northwest Director
National Association of Forest Service Retirees

(attachment follows)


Fire Suppression Funding Solutions Coalition Issue Statement, 2/19/09

Problem Statement:

Upward trends in fire suppression funding costs increasingly prevent the USDA Forest Service (USFS) and the Department of the Interior (DOI) land management agencies from implementing critical programs and fulfilling their missions.

The Solution:

The Fire Suppression Funding Solutions Coalition (FSFSC) believes that Congress must identify a new mechanism for funding emergency fire suppression activities. The following principles and recommendations are critical to any legislation proposing a real and lasting solution for the funding crisis currently facing federal land management agencies.


Two principles are essential counter-parts to the recommendations that follow:


1. Investment of funds into the range of agency programs that have been impacted by increasing suppression costs must occur for agencies to accomplish their missions; and Cost-containment

2. The USFS and DOI must continue developing and implementing a rigorous set of measures for linking fire management to fire costs in order to more effectively achieve cost-containment

Key Recommendations

1. Create a partitioned wildfire suppression account to fund emergency fires.

2. The creation of this separate account must be accompanied by the following: a. Non-emergency agency budgets (USFS and DOI) shall not be impacted by emergency fire spending; and b. Replace the 10-year rolling average with a more predictive statistical modeling approach that utilizes current weather, drought, fuel load as well as fire history and other data to project the extent of wildland fire on the landscape and economic modeling to predict the funding needed to address it.


American Forests; American Forests and Paper Association; American Lands Alliance; Appalachian Mountain Club; Applegate Partnership and Watershed Council; Archery Trade Association; Association of Consulting Foresters; Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies; Black Hills Forest Resource Association; Black Hills Regional Multiple Use Coalition; Boone and Crockett Club; California Ski Association; Center for Biological Diversity; Choose Outdoors Coalition; Colorado Timber Industry Association; Communities Committee; Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation; Conservation Northwest; Defenders of Wildlife; Earthjustice; Environmental Protection Information Center; Flathead Economic Policy Center; Forest Guild; Forest Landowners Association; Great Old Broads for Wilderness; Greater Yellowstone Coalition; Idaho Conservation League; Intermountain Forest Association; Intermountain Forest Association – Rocky Mountain Division; International Association of Fire Chiefs; International Code Council; InterTribal Timber Council; Klamath Forest Alliance; Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center; Mt. Adams Resource Stewards; National Association of Conservation Districts; National Association of Counties; National Association of Forest Service Retirees; National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds; National Association of State Foresters; National Cattlemen’s Beef Association; National Shooting Sports Foundation; National Ski Areas Association; National Wild Turkey Federation; National Woodlands Owners Association; Natural Resource Defense Council; North American Bear Foundation; North American Grouse Partnership; Northern Forest Alliance; Oregon Wild Pacific Rivers Council; PLC Quality Deer Management Association; Regional Council of Rural Counties; Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation; Ruffed Grouse Society; Safari Club International; Sand County Foundation; Sierra Club; Siskiyou Project; Siuslaw Institute; Society of American Foresters; Swan Ecosystem Center; Texas Wildlife Association; The Nature Conservancy; The Wildlife Society; The Wilderness Society; Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership; Trout Unlimited; Whitetails Unlimited; Wilderness Workshop; Wildlands CPR; Wildlife Forever; Wildlife Management Institute; WildWest Institute



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