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Tidwell Outlines Firefighting Needs

Thomas_Tidwell

U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell highlighted the challenges facing his agency as it continues to respond to increasingly extreme wildfires, in a statement before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee yesterday.  He told the Senate leaders the Forest Service estimates a total of almost 400 million acres of all vegetated lands are at moderate to high risk from uncharacteristically large wildfires and longer fire seasons. He told the committee todays fire seasons are hotter, drier and longer – longer by  an additional 60 days in many cases.  Working with the Department of the Interior, Tidwell says the Forest Service has involved the entire wildland fire community in developing a long-term National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy. However, Tidwell pointed out that during the past 10 years, the Forest Service has made fire transfers from non-firefighting accounts to pay for fire suppression costs six times, ranging from a low of $100 million in fiscal year 2007 to a high of $999 million in fiscal year 2002, and totaling approximately $2.7 billion.  Fires in Wyoming last year totaled between 80 and 90 million dollars with the Horsethief Fire near Jackson alone accounting for $9-million of that.

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