THE HILL | America’s forests are the heart and lungs of our nation. Forests clean our drinking water and trees filter the air we all need, and the work of keeping them healthy shouldn’t suffer because we must also fight wildfire disasters. Unfortunately, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) are often forced to choose between the two. While we use emergency funds for damages and recovery from earthquakes, floods and other disasters, we pay to fight wildfire disasters directly from the budgets of these federal agencies. In bad fire years like this one, when the budgeted amount isn’t enough, the Forest Service and DOI must take money away from the very programs that are designed to reduce wildfire risk. This only exacerbates the problem and increases the likelihood of future fires. It is time to fix how we fund wildfire disaster relief.
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