Public Safety & Justice

Obama Pledges to Reform Wildfire Funding

June 11, 2014

During her keynote address Monday at the Western Governors' Association annual meeting, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced that the Obama administration is revamping the "crazy" way the federal government has budgeted for fighting wildfires.

President Barack Obama's proposed budget for fiscal year 2015 sets aside $954 million in a new disaster fund for wildfires. The fund will be used in years when the cost of fighting fires exceeds the budgeted amount - something that has been occurring frequently as fire seasons lengthen and increase in severity.

When costs overran in the past, the budget money was pulled from programs aimed at improving forest health or mitigating for the danger of wildfires.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said the eight governors at the conference had an unprecedented conference call Monday with Obama to talk about drought conditions in the West, floods and particularly the threat of wildfires. Obama was in the Situation Room for the call with some of his key cabinet members, including Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

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