Forest Service has more cash to fight catastrophic wildfires

The acting chief of the U.S. Forest Service says there’s a sense of relief at the agency for the billions of additional dollars made available by lawmakers over the next decade to fight catastrophic wildfires but also a duty to expend it wisely.

Vicki Christiansen says the money will help the agency avoid raiding other parts of its budget and allow work to prevent wildfires while also tackling a backlog of trail and road work.

She was joined at a news conference Wednesday by three U.S. senators. Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho says the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act approved this year is the most important statute affecting the Forest Service in the last 50 years.

The agency last year expended $2.4 billion opposing wildfires, more than half its overall budget.

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