NCFP is mentioned in this story in E&E News.
Here’s the link.
Below are some excerpts.
The “fire borrowing” has occurred with increasing frequency over the past decade as the cost of fighting wildfires has spiraled out of control.
Fire borrowing has happened six times in the past decade, Tidwell told a Senate panel in June, and has ranged from a low of $100 million in 2007 to a high of $999 million in 2002. Of the total $2.7 billion that was borrowed, about $2.3 billion was eventually restored by Congress but not without disruptions to important agency programs, he said (E&E Daily, June 5).
“Not only do these impacts affect the ability of the Forest Service to conduct stewardship work on national forests, they also affect agency partners, local governments and tribes,” Tidwell said.
As an example, past fire borrowing has forced the agency to halt trail work on the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail in California and repair many other trails and trailheads, wasting the opportunity to leverage thousands of volunteers. Failure to complete the work was expected to cause sedimentation and damage to watersheds.
Lawmakers from both parties have urged the administration to improve implementation of an emergency wildfire reserve known as the FLAME fund that Congress established in 2009. The FLAME fund was designed to prevent the raiding of other agency budgets. But that account is depleted, the agency has indicated.
“It didn’t take a crystal ball to predict that the Forest Service once again would be forced to steal money from hazardous fuels and other fire prevention programs to pay for spiraling costs of fighting fires,” said Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who yesterday visited the interagency fire center in Boise. “The fires sweeping the West are proof that federal forest and fire policy are broken.”
Absolutely broken. Thank you Senator Wyden! Now what would fix it?
Chris Topik, who directs the Nature Conservancy’s Restoring America’s Forests program and is a former aide on the House subcommittee that funds wildfire suppression, said it was “chilling” that Tidwell had ordered the field to stop spending money.
“This is a mess, as forecast,” Topik said. “It shows that we need to get serious about investing in the restoration work that reduces fire risk. We need to get serious about a new way of funding suppression.”
Topik said he anticipates that the Interior Department within the next 10 days will also have to start borrowing money from other programs to shore up its wildfire budget.
He said the Forest Service already has canceled official trips to Salt Lake City next week for a federal advisory committee meeting on forest planning.
The agency will “just not be doing much,” Topik said. “This is 8 percent of America. It’s not trivial.”
“Will Congress pay it back?” Topik added. “I hope so.”
Thank you, Chris, it’s time folks got fired up (sts) about this. Even if the FS folks manage to get back some of the fire borrowing borrowed money..well it’s next year and a hassle to distribute, and a unit might end up getting nothing depending on who gets their hands on it before it gets to you, and what crises next year brings.
Note that Chris says Interior will start doing the same thing.