Letters From the West

Simpson adds $636 million in firefighting money to continuing resolution

Simpson talks to firefighters at the Beaver Creek fire in Hailey in August.

Simpson talks to firefighters at the Beaver Creek fire in Hailey in August.

Idaho Republican Rep. Mike Simpson added $636 million in wildfire suppression funding for the Forest Service and Department of Interior in the short-term continuing resolution.

Simpson, who chairs the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, included the funds which had been cut and forced to “borrow” money from other programs to continue fighting fires. His committee oversees the budget for public lands agencies like the Forest Service and the BLM.

“One of the biggest problems with fire borrowing is that it perpetuates the cycle of catastrophic wildfires in forests that are not being adequately managed,” said Simpson. “Siphoning money away from resource management accounts during a bad fire year means that those forests will be more susceptible to devastating fires in the future—and when almost every year is a bad fire year, land managers’ hands are tied.”

Rocky Barker is the energy and environment reporter for the Idaho Statesman and has been writing about the West since 1985. He is the author of Scorched Earth How the Fires of Yellowstone Changed America and co-producer of the movie Firestorm: Last Stand at Yellowstone, which was inspired by the book and broadcast on A&E Network. He also co-authored the Flyfisher's Guide to Idaho and the Wingshooter's Guide to Idaho with Ken Retallic. He also was on the Statesman’s team that covered the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news in 2007. The National Wildlife Federation awarded him its Conservation Achievement Award.

Posted in Letters from the West