Friday, April 25, 2008

House bill would fund wildfire fighting

Express Staff Writer

The U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources has cleared a bill intended to assist funding wildfire suppression.

The Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement Act, also called the FLAME Act, was introduced by House Natural Resource Committee Chairman Nick Rahall, D-W.V., and is cosponsored by Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho.

"Congress needs to begin to take these wildfires seriously," Simpson said in a news release this week. "Each year the fires in the West get worse, and each year we scramble to adequately fund the suppression of these blazes."

The legislation would establish a federal FLAME fund for wildfire suppression above the funds already budgeted for wildfires through the budgets of public-land management agencies. FLAME funding would be set aside specifically for catastrophic, emergency wildfires.

"I am pleased to see the Committee on Natural Resources has taken such an important step to address this issue, and I am hopeful Congress will continue to reassess current land management policies to improve wildfire suppression," Simpson said.

The FLAME Act is still under consideration in the House Committee on Agriculture.

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