Our Northwest

Not enough money to fight wildfires this year

Wednesday, May 7, 2014by  Jon Osterberg

Firefighters project they’ll spend more money combating wildfires in 2014 than what’s available in their budget.
   The Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service told Congress last week they’ll likely spend $1.8 billion fighting wildfires. Lawmakers allocated only $1.4 billion.
   Drought conditions continue throughout much of the West, compounding a trend that’s seen fire season stretch an additional two months over the past 30 years.
   The White House released a federal climate report May 6 that cites human activity as the main cause of global warming. Among the changes we can expect are more wildfires, insect blight (like pine beetle and spruce budworm outbreaks), and tree disease in our forests.
   The report predicts reduced summer precipitation in the Northwest, causing “greater extent of wildfires throughout the region.” That could mean more threats like the 2012 Taylor Bridge fire, shown in this Brian Myrick Ellensburg Daily Record photo. Read the Northwest highlighlights from the National Climate Assessment.

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