AF&PA Backs Introduction of FLAME Act
March 12, 2009 - The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) applauded the introduction of the Federal Land Assistance, Management, and Enhancement (FLAME) Act, legislation to help fund the suppression of catastrophic wildfires.
This important bipartisan bill, introduced in the House by Representatives Nick Rahall (D-WV), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Norm Dicks (D-WA), Greg Walden (R-OR), and Mike Simpson (R-ID), and in the Senate by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mark Udall (D-NM), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Tim Johnson (D-SD) creates a special fund within the U.S. Forest Service to cover emergency suppression costs for catastrophic wildfires. Currently, funds are often reallocated from other land management programs to fund fire suppression costs during severe fire years.
“Fixing the way the Forest Service pays for firefighting costs is a long-standing priority for our industry,” said Donna Harman, president and CEO of AF&PA.
“The FLAME Act is a much better way to fund fire suppression costs because it establishes an emergency account that can be managed separately from the rest of the Forest Service budget. This provides adequate fire suppression funding without other programs having to suffer," Harman said.
“Without the FLAME Act it is extremely unlikely that the agency will be able to meaningfully implement a forest management program that restores forest health, prevents emissions of significant amounts of greenhouse gases, and maintains a strong forest products infrastructure,” Harman added.
Fire suppression costs now make up almost half of the Forest Service's discretionary budget and fire fighting has resulted in the reallocation of more than $2.2 billion in Forest Service funds between 1999 and 2003. Frequently, it takes years to get these funds repaid – if they are repaid at all – a practice which causes severe disruption in the delivery of every resource management program.
The FLAME Act would fund large fire costs without raiding important land management programs and would free up resources to accomplish other important forest health projects.