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Northwest Leadership Questions Proposed Cuts To Federal Wildfire Budget

File photo of the the Cornet-Windy Ridge Fire in Northeast Oregon in August 2015.
File photo of the the Cornet-Windy Ridge Fire in Northeast Oregon in August 2015.

President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for wildfire funding was front and center during a hearing Thursday in Washington, D.C.. Northwest leaders are not only questioning possible cuts, they’re also looking for different ways to get ahead during fire season.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, the ranking member on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, told Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell her Washington state constituents have been saying wildfire prevention needs to be a priority. 

“Quote: ‘The science says that we should be focusing our nation’s attention on funding and getting ahead of the fire problem,’ end quote,” Cantwell said.

The budget proposal calls for more than $350 million in cuts to firefighting and prevention. It’s also based on a 10-year average of wildfire costs—a number Tidwell said continues to increase. 

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown believes firefighting and suppression dollars shouldn’t come from the proposed budget at all. 

“You start reducing the dollars that the Forest Service has and frankly the Department of Forestry to do treatment, resiliency, forest health—it’s penny wise and pound foolish.” she said.

Brown said a specific emergency pot fund could save money for improved forest management and health in the Northwest.

Copyright 2017 Northwest News Network

Emily Schwing
Emily Schwing comes to the Inland Northwest by way of Alaska, where she covered social and environmental issues with an Arctic spin as well as natural resource development, wildlife management and Alaska Native issues for nearly a decade. Her work has been heard on National Public Radio’s programs like “Morning Edition” and “All things Considered.” She has also filed for Public Radio International’s “The World,” American Public Media’s “Marketplace,” and various programs produced by the BBC and the CBC. She has also filed stories for Scientific American, Al Jazeera America and Arctic Deeply.