USA — The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing todayin Washington to consider the status of Federal land management agenciesefforts to contain the costs of their wildfire suppression activities and toconsider recent independent reviews of and recommendations for those efforts.
Testimony from Department of Agriculture, Department of the Interior,Government Accounting Office (GAO), the Agriculture Department Inspector General(IG), and other government officials was considered. Considerablediscussion occurred during the hearing regarding the budgetary methods employedby government officials to consider cost forecasting. It was generallyacknowledged that the current extended drought cycle has resulted in costsgreater than those predicted.
Senators present at the hearing heard from government officials that severalPublic Laws should be amended to increase investigative protocols with respectto accident investigations, especially with respect to criminal wrongdoing. Witnesses were questioned at length on the merits of the Healthy ForestInitiative, and it was noted that the number of acres requiring treatment isgrowing three times faster than the acres treated. A number ofrecommendations were discussed for local governments to address the growingwildland urban interface problem and to create protective spaces to createfire-wise communities.