Trump/Zinke budget would cut nearly $140 million from wildfire management programs
As fire season winds down across the West, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s record of underfunding the solutions to this expensive challenge is coming into sharper focus. His claims that more aggressive forest management would have avoided a historically long fire and difficult fire season have been debunked by expert foresters and criticized as politically motivated.
Secretaries Zinke and Perdue, joined by Senator Daines and Congressman Gianforte, fly in style to fires in Montana.
The only sure solution to fighting fires is more resources to fight fires. Unfortunately, Secretary Zinke’s record is on wildfire funding is abysmal:
- The proposed Trump budget would cut $118.3 million from the Wildland Fire Management and FLAME accounts and $20.2 million from the Fuels management program.
- He voted against budget legislation in 2015 that would have allowed ‘additional amount of budget authority’ when it came to ‘making appropriations for wildfire suppression operations.’
- Zinke voted against a proposed 2015 budget, which would have created a mechanism to allow for ‘decreasing forest hazardous fuel loads.’
- In 2015, Zinke, acting as Montana’s lone Congressman, voted against wildland firefighting funds when he supported a measure to reduce funds by a 1 percent across-the-board. The cut would have been devastating to agencies responsible for fighting fires, resulting in at $36 million budgetary reductions.
- He voted against a motion that would have required that ‘sufficient supplies of water [were] allocated for both the fighting of wildfires and drinking water.’ The motion would have ensured that Western reservoirs, lakes, and community water supplies would maintain levels necessary to fight fires.
- While still a Montana State Senator in 2011, he voted against providing workers’ compensation for volunteer firefighters. Volunteer firefighters are a critical part of the firefighting response in rural states like Zinke’s home state of Montana.