The Honorable Paul Ryan
Speaker
U.S. House of Representatives 
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives 
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Charles Schumer
Minority Leader
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

 

Dear Speaker Ryan, Minority Leader Pelosi, Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer:

The nation’s governors continue to urge Congress to reform the federal wildfire suppression funding formula and provide stability for long-term planning and wildfire mitigation practices. The practice of using Department of Interior and U.S. Forest Service 10-year average suppression costs for budgeting continues to constrain non-suppression program resources and no longer provides accurate funding estimates for wildfire suppression activities.

According to the Department of Agriculture, we just experienced the most expensive wildfire year on record with wildfire suppression costs surpassing $2.3 billion and more than 8.5 million acres burned. As fire suppression activities continue to rise as a percentage of the Forest Service’s budget, resources to responsibly manage forests are impacted.

Disruptions to funding undermine long-term wildfire mitigation strategies. Federal agencies have been forced to transfer funds from non-suppression programs to fill gaps in fire suppression appropriations nine times since 2002. Perhaps more significantly, the rising costs of the 10-year average formula are shifting approximately $100 million annually from non-fire accounts to meet fire needs. Programs and staffing critical to manage timber, mitigate fires, restore ecosystems, provide recreation, administer livestock grazing, and ensure other multiple uses across the landscape continue to be diminished. Governors believe a comprehensive fix must address both the challenges of the rising costs of fire suppression, and the complicating challenges of mid-season fire transfers.

Governors urge Congressional action this year to enact comprehensive budgetary reform that addresses budget erosion and minimizes transfers. Thank you for your attention to this critical issue, we look forward to working together. 

Sincerely,

 

Governor Brian Sandoval
Chair
National Governors Association

Governor Steve Bullock
Vice Chair
National Governors Association

Governor Matthew H. Mead
Chair
Natural Resources Committee

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.
Vice Chair
Natural Resources Committee

 

cc:
Director Mick Mulvaney, Office of Management and Budget
Secretary Sonny Perdue, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Secretary Ryan Zinke, U.S. Department of Interior