USA — Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the FLAME Act (Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement Act) by a vote of 412 – 3. This vote represents an important step towards fixing the funding crisis that has prevented the Forest Service from conducting work to restore the health of forests and protect communities from devastating wildfires.
The FLAME Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by Rep. Rahall (D-W.V.) and Rep. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), would provide much-needed relief for the Forest Service and the Department of the Interior by creating a separate fund for suppressing catastrophic wildfires. In recent years, the land management agencies have been forced to deplete funding for a variety of important programs and services so that they can adequately fund wildfire suppression.
The bill also requires that the Secretary of Agriculture and Secretary of the Interior develop and submit to Congress a cohesive wildland fire management strategy.
Statement of Michael Degnan, Sierra Club Lands Representative
As large wildfires have increased dramatically over the past decade, so have the costs of fighting these fires. With so much of its budget redirected towards emergency fire suppression, the Forest Service has not been able to conduct restoration work that would decrease the likelihood of catastrophic wildfires in the first place.
Thankfully, today the House of Representatives has recognized the need to address this dangerous problem. By creating an emergency fund, the FLAME Act will allow land management agencies to focus on protecting at-risk communities from wildfire while maintaining a commitment to other programs that restore wildlife habitat and make our lands more resilient to climate change.