Obama, Western Governors Make Plans for Fire Season

We fully support a strategy that does not involve dipping into fire prevention funds. We believe fire prevention and pre-suppression is key to reducing the threat of wildfire in Hawaii. Obama and the Western Governors agree:

From the Source: 

"A years-long drought parching Western states and threatening to ignite a record fire season is spurring the Obama administration to revise the federal government’s approach to combating wildfires that threaten hundreds of millions of acres of Western land.

Obama and senior administration officials on Monday met by video conference from the Situation Room with governors of eight states, gathered here for the annual meeting of the Western Governors Association. The White House reviewed national drought estimates and fire projections with governors and promised to work with them once fire season gets under way.

'Fire is a priority for this administration,' Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told governors on Monday."

"The Obama administration has said climate change is causing increasingly severe fire seasons, which average 60 to 80 days longer than in past decades because of hotter temperatures and less snowpack. Idaho Gov. Butch Otter (R) said Monday the fires are an environmental risk, too: In 2013, fires in Otter’s state added 6 million tons of carbon to the atmosphere and 34 million tons of particulates, he said."

"On Capitol Hill, the administration is also pushing Congress to adopt new budgetary rules that would remove forest-fire funding from the traditional budget process. Instead, major fires would be treated as disasters and funded the same way hurricanes, tornadoes and other calamities are treated.

Under current rules, when fire costs spiral out of control, the federal government has to dip into accounts set aside for long-term fire prevention, like fuel management, to pay for short-term containment and suppression costs.

'Because of the extent of fires that we’ve had in recent years, not only has the fire suppression been used up, but all the other money that’s been set aside for fuel mitigation has to be cannibalized to fight fire,' said South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R)."

  Above: "Plumes of smoke from a wildfire rise from Oak Creek Canyon in Sedona, Ariz., as seen from I-89A near Sedona, Ariz.,on May 21, 2014." Credit: AP Photo/Vyto Starinskas

Above: "Plumes of smoke from a wildfire rise from Oak Creek Canyon in Sedona, Ariz., as seen from I-89A near Sedona, Ariz.,on May 21, 2014." Credit: AP Photo/Vyto Starinskas