U.S. Forest Service Starved for Resources

5 August 2015 | Defenders of Wildlife News Release

WASHINGTON Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Forest Service released an alarming report illustrating the profound impact of rising firefighting costs on national forest conservation, restoration, recreation and management programs. The report highlights the fact that firefighting costs now consume over 50 percent of the Forest Service’s budget, compared to just 16 percent in 1995, and are expected to comprise two-thirds of the agency’s budget 10 years from now if left unaddressed.

The following is a statement from Jamie Rappaport Clark, President and CEO, Defenders of Wildlife:

“This report illustrates the tremendous impact of rising firefighting costs on our ability to conserve and restore our national forests. When the Forest Service spends one-half of every dollar fighting fires, there is scant funding left for everything else the agency must do, including conserving fish, wildlife and their habitat. Since 1995, as firefighting costs have grown to take up the majority of spending on national forests, fish and wildlife conservation investments have declined by one-fifth.

“Given the rising costs of fighting wildland fires, the existing failed approach to budgeting for firefighting is badly broken and needs to change. It is time for Congress to fix the fire budget by passing the proposed Wildfire Disaster Funding Act. Doing so will allow the Forest Service to responsibly address wildland fires and invest in programs that will conserve and restore our national forests and the wildlife that depend on them.”

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Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.

Contact: Courtney Sexton, csexton@defenders.org, 202-772-0253


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