Wildfires across the country this year have charred millions of acres, threatened homes and burned cultural landmarks. They've also set a record.
$2 billion – that’s how much it’s cost to beat back fires in 2017, making it the most expensive firefighting season in American history. These blazes have gobbled up 2.2 million acres of national forest land as of this week.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the federal Forest Service, says it’s had to dig deeper into budgets to ward off the flames – even dipping into fire prevention funds.
That leaves little to no money for prescribed burning and other forest management techniques that can prevent a manageable blaze from growing into a behemoth.
Agriculture Sec. Sonny Perdue renewed his call on Congress to fix how his agency pays for wildfires – something Rep. Mike Simpson (R) has tried to accomplish for years.
That would mean wildfires would be treated like natural disasters with money to extinguish them coming from special emergency relief funds.
The U.S. House has yet to take up Simpson’s bill introduced in June.
For more local news, follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson
Copyright 2017 Boise State Public Radio