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Friday, June 7, 2013

Wildfire Management: Federal Funding and Related Statistics

Kelsi Bracmort
Specialist in Agricultural Conservation and Natural Resources Policy

Wildfires can have beneficial and harmful impacts on ecosystems (e.g., by reducing fuel loads, or by damaging communities and timber resources). These impacts are generally measured and discussed based on the priorities of humans in these ecosystems. Federal resources are typically deployed during wildfire season—an annual occurrence of intense wildfire activity—to help manage wildfires and potentially minimize some of the impacts, including the loss of life and property. The primary agencies for federal wildfire response are the Forest Service and the Department of the Interior. Federal wildfire response activities involve preparedness, suppression, fuel reduction, site rehabilitation, and more.

More than 9.3 million acres burned during the 2012 wildfire season, which was the third-largest acreage burned annually since 1960. The total amount of wildfire management (WFM) appropriations for 2012 was approximately $2.7 billion, not including an additional $407.5 million appropriated in 2013 to repay 2012 WFM wildfire suppression accounts. Over the last five years, WFM appropriations on average have steadily increased relative to earlier years. This leads some to question whether federal resources for wildfire management are being used efficiently.

This report provides wildfire management statistics (e.g., number of wildfires, acres burned, select state wildfire activity, firefighter personnel), presents WFM appropriations from fiscal years 2008 to the present, and discusses two related issues—wildfire suppression funding estimation and air tanker readiness.

Date of Report: May 21, 2013
Number of Pages: 17
Order Number: R43077
Price: $29.95

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