Rising Firefighting Costs Affecting Budget - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Rising Firefighting Costs Affecting Budget

Posted: Updated:
A new report shows that the cost of fighting wildfires has risen dramatically, over the past two decades. That is having an impact on fire prevention efforts. In 1995, the U.S. Forest Service used 16% of its budget to fight fires. Today, that percentage has grown to 42%.

"The last 20 years have seen a lot of drought in the west," says Rudy Evenson, Deputy Director of Communications for the Nevada BLM. "We're in a drought right now. Drought makes fires harder to fight, makes them burn longer."

The dry weather also leaves forests more susceptible to disease and insects. While fire activity has been relatively low in Nevada, this year, the national trend has fires starting big, and getting bigger.

"In Washington and Oregon, this year alone, they're at 1 million acres and they're probably on track to beat their 2012 record of 1.2 million acres," Reno Fire Chief Michael Hernandez said.

Hernandez says it costs $15,000 every time a large air tanker makes a drop because of fuel, retardant, and pilot costs. Wildfire staffing has more than doubled since 1998, but staff for managing National Forest Service lands have decreased by 35%.

"Ironically, (it) takes it away from wildfire fuels management programs, which are aimed at addressing the problem of reducing the large scale fires," Ed Smith, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Natural Resource Specialist said.

That means many areas are going without fuels management. With less federal money there, the burden falls on local fire departments.

"It trickles down to the local first responders because we're the ones that go out and make that initial attack, trying to suppress that wildfire," Hernandez said.

The Bureau of Land Management is still within their fire suppression budget, this year. But the U.S. Forest Service has exceeded its allocated amount in 10 of the last 14 years. The amount of wildfires on federal lands has more than doubled since 1980, and the fire season is getting longer.

"Traditionally, it's May to October," Hernandez said. "Now, they're adding 90 days on each end. It's not getting any better."

There are some bipartisan proposals, in Congress, that would fund catastrophic fires like any other natural disasters. That would open up more revenue and allocate more of the budget to other forestry programs.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Resident Records Bobcat in Somersett

    Resident Records Bobcat in Somersett

    Wednesday, May 23 2018 7:45 PM EDT2018-05-23 23:45:59 GMT

    A Reno resident spotted a bobcat in Somersett, and got video of the animal as it groomed itself. 

    More >>

    A Reno resident spotted a bobcat in Somersett, and got video of the animal as it groomed itself. 

    More >>
  • Amtrak Passenger Critically Injured in Truckee; Family Demands Answers

    Amtrak Passenger Critically Injured in Truckee; Family Demands Answers

    Tuesday, May 22 2018 9:07 PM EDT2018-05-23 01:07:58 GMT

    A Portland State University student has been in a coma for a week at Renown's ICU, after a mysterious incident on his way home via Amtrak.  He was found unconscious in Truckee, where he suffered broken bones, a damaged brain stem and severe burns. His family is demanding answers.

    More >>

    A Portland State University student has been in a coma for a week at Renown's ICU, after a mysterious incident on his way home via Amtrak.  He was found unconscious in Truckee, where he suffered broken bones, a damaged brain stem and severe burns. His family is demanding answers.

    More >>
  • Our Apologies

    The page you requested is currently unavailable. Pages on this site are constantly being revised, updated, and occasionally removed. You may have followed an outdated link or have outdated pages in your

    You have reached a page which is currently unavailable. We apologize for any inconvenience. Please use your browser's BACK button to return to the previous page

    More >>
Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 Sarkes Tarzian, Inc. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.