September 30, 2008

Wildfires Eat into Forest Service Budget

The U.S. Forest Service budget shows more than $400 million has been shifted to fighting wildfires in the past two years.

USA Today said Tuesday that the changing priorities have led to deferred or canceled maintenance, and have placed limits on public access to national forests.

"The impacts will be far-reaching and will affect all parts of the Forest Service's budget, making it hard for the agency to accomplish much beyond the most minimal aspects of its many responsibilities," said Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo., a member of the House Natural Resources Committee.

USA Today said that while the number of fires and acreage burned has declined recently, the overall cost of firefighting has gone up.