BEND, OR -- The head of the U.S. Forest Service is on board with changing the way the federal government funds wildfire suppression. Currently, the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management have to dip into fire prevention budgets to pay for firefighting efforts on large wildfires. U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell says it's only a small percentage of wildfires that throw the budget out of whack. He spoke to the Senate Energey and Natural Resources Committee last week about the need to change the funding framework. "Just last year, the top ten fires cost $329 million to fight, and that's out of 52,000 fires on naitonal forest land. We're going to continue to suppress 98% of these fires with our budget - it's just 1% that are considered a natural disaster."
Senator Ron Wyden serves on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. He got assurances from Tidwell to work toward making these changes to better fund wildfire suppression and prevention in the future.