Wildfire spending soared past $1 billion last week as over fifty fires blazed out of control across the Western U.S. When the U.S. Forest Service budget dwindled down to just $50 million during the peak wildfire season, the agency was forced to divert $600 million in funds from timber, recreation, and other areas to fill the gap. As these destructive infernos rapidly increase in recent years, studies show climate change as the main cause behind the flames.
2012 marked one of the worst years in U.S. wildfire history. Last year’s fires scorched over 9.2 million acres of land–an area larger than the state of Maryland. This year, over 33,000 wildfires have consumed 3.5 million acres of land and destroyed hundreds of homes.
Mandatory budget cuts that reduced the Forest Service’s budget by 5 percent have exacerbated the issue as year after year, the fire season becomes longer and more deadly due to hotter and drier summers. The explosive infernos have become more commonplace as rising temperatures and widespread drought lead to earlier snowmelt and expanded insect infestations. While the fight against the blaze rages on, some senators hope to fight fire with policy and call for national reform of forest policy for better management of public lands.
Via Think Progress