July 9, 2008
House Passes Wildfire Emergency-Fund Bill
The U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday passed a measure that would create an emergency fund to be used in the event of catastrophic wildfires.
Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said the Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement, or FLAME, Act would set up a pool of money separate from the annual U.S. Forest Service firefighting budget that could be dipped into during major emergencies.
Rahall said in a written statement that firefighting was one of the most serious and pressing issues facing our federal land management agencies.
Backers of the FLAME Act say 2 percent of the fires on federal lands can gobble up as much as 80 percent of the annual firefighting budget. The size of the emergency fund will be based on a 5-year average of the overall cost of fire suppression.
The act was passed on a voice vote and must next be approved in the Senate.