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Sen. Crapo Backs Bill For Wildfire Funding

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By Brittany Cooper

Twin Falls, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KSVT-TV ) The Washington Post reports the federal government has spent $1.4 billion over the last decade fighting fires. Idaho Senator Mike Crapo is backing a bill that would treat wildfires as natural disasters.

The Wildfire Disaster Funding Act allows for more funding to go towards fire prevention and restoration.

Wildland fire crews have been running out of money to fight fires for the past decade and when the funds dry up, agencies are forced to dig for money elsewhere.

Sen. Mike Crapo, (R) Idaho adds, "in the end Congress always puts money back in, but only after the damage is done. So our bill will not actually increase the cost of those responding to forest fires, it would simply smooth out the process of responding more efficiently and more effectively."

A major issue is the increase of homes being built in what's known as the Wildland Urban Interface. More resources are needed, translating to additional funding. Take the Beaver Creek Fire for example, in the Wood River Valley.

"If we continue to rob the agencies' budgets to fight the forest fires themselves and so what i think we need to do is to have effective management at the Department of Agriculture, Forest Service and also at the BLM and then we will probably have lower forest firefighting cost because we would have done the preparation and the management in advance."

The proposed legislation is sponsored by Crapo and Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon. Congressmen Mike Simpson and Kurt Schrader of Oregon introduced the same bill in the House.

Crapo says, "I have a lot of disagreements with President Obama and I have a lot of concerns about his budget because it's a lot more taxes and a lot more spending, but one of the things he did do is pick up our proposal for clarifying the way which we deal with fighting forest fires and wildfires."

West coast lawmakers gaining broad support from coast to coast.

Meanwhile, President Obama is seeking support for a FY 2015 budget proposal that's nearly $4 trillion.


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