Office of Wildland Fire
For Immediate Release Contact: Genevieve Giaccardo
February 12, 2018 Wildlandfire@ios.doi.gov
President Proposes $870 million for Department of the Interior Wildland Fire Management in Fiscal Year 2019
Funding will protect people, property and Tribal communities from destructive wildfires
WASHINGTON – President Trump today requested $870.4 million in appropriations for the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Wildland Fire Management (WFM) program for fiscal year (FY) 2019. The proposal represents a strategic investment in DOI’s wildland fire management and operations in support of efforts to manage wildfires across the United States. The proposed budget makes critical investments in fire prevention, readiness, and efforts to reduce the threat of wildfire through prescribed fires and other methods.
“In September, I directed all land managers to adopt aggressive practices to prevent the spread of catastrophic wildfires,” said Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “The President’s budget request for the Wildland Fire Management program provides the resources needed for fuels management and efforts that will help protect firefighters, the public and local communities.”
“DOI plays a central role in minimizing the impacts of wildfires through an integrated WFM program that provides safer conditions for firefighters and the public, as well as protects critical infrastructure, Tribal trust assets, and important natural and cultural resources,” said Jeff Rupert, Director of the Office of Wildland Fire. “It is essential that we complement fire suppression efforts with investments in strategic fuels reduction and active land management in order to advance the goals of the Cohesive Strategy.”
The FY 2019 budget request includes $388.1 million for suppression operations, which responsibly funds 100 percent of the 10-year average for suppression. In 2017, more than 66,000 fires burned almost 9.8 million acres of Federal, Tribal, State, and private lands. DOI and the U.S. Forest Service spent more than the $3 billion combined on wildfire suppression this past year, which was the costliest on record.
To alleviate the need to borrow from non-WFM accounts to fund suppression operations, the FY 2019 budget proposes to amend the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act and establish a separate annual budget cap adjustment for wildfire suppression operations. This would authorize an additional $1.5 billion for suppression, which would be allocated between DOI and the U.S. Forest Service to ensure sufficient resources are available during the most severe fire seasons. The budget request proposes to discontinue use of the FLAME Wildfire Suppression Reserve Fund by consolidating it with the Suppression Operations account.
The FY 2019 budget request includes $322.2 million for fire preparedness efforts that support DOI’s critical initial response capabilities. The acquisition, contracting, and funding for aerial resources, engines, hand crews, and other equipment are critical to DOI’s readiness to respond to wildlfires. DOI will continue to be a federal leader in the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for wildland fire management and other resource management purposes. UAS have
played a key role in the tactical support of wildfires through improved fire surveillance and reconnaissance that increase firefighter safety and allow for better operational planning.
DOI remains committed to its Tribal trust responsibilities. The FY 2019 budget includes $10 million to continue the Reserved Treaty Rights Land program that supports landscape restoration and the management of Tribal resources, primarily through collaborative fuels management projects. This program coupled with other WFM funding is essential to the economic and ecological sustainability of Tribal lands and forests.
To help safeguard local communities against the threat of catastrophic wildlfires, the FY 2019 budget request includes $150.6 million to fund fuels management projects. The funding supports the Secretary of the Interior’s Wildland Fire Directive, which prioritizes fuels management funding and project work to address the accumulation of vegetation in fire prone areas. Extended periods of drought in many regions have led to longer and more complex fire seasons. The management of fuels – including unnatural or overgrown vegetation – through the use of prescribed fire, mechanical treatments, and other means is an important component of the overall WFM program and an investment that protects natural resources, people, communities, and infrastructure by limiting the risk of catastrophic wildfires.
The goal of the WFM program is to achieve an integrated, cost-efficient, and technically sound fire management program that meets resource and safety objectives. As outlined in the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy, the guiding program principles and priorities are to safely and effectively respond to wildfires, promote fire-adapted communities, and create fire-resilient landscapes through direct program activities and strong Federal, Tribal, state, and local collaboration. DOI’s WFM program is comprised of the Office of Wildland Fire and four bureaus with wildland fire management responsibilities – the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service.
For more information on wildland fire, please visit @DOIWildlandFire or doi.gov/wildlandfire.