At the same time firefighters work to control the deadly flames in Northern California, a group of western politicians are pushing for a change in how these efforts are funded.
In the latest attempt to force a change in Congress, Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch have again signed on to a bill that deals with wildfire funding. The bipartisan bill has support from Democrats in Montana, Oregon and Colorado.
According to Lindsay Nothern with Sen. Crapo’s office, the Wildfire Mitigation Assistance Act would allow states to access a federal grant program without waiting for a presidential disaster declaration. Nothern says the FEMA money could be used to stop flooding and erosion after a wildfire has swept through the landscape. It could also go toward prevention of future fires.
The bill comes after Crapo and Risch supported a measure that would change how wildfire bills get paid. Known as fire borrowing, the current accounting method raids unrelated parts of the Forest Service budget to cover increasingly expensive fire years.
Idaho Representative Mike Simpson introduced similar legislation that would treat wildfires like other natural disasters, alleviating the pressure on land management budgets.