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July 9th, 2008
House Passes FLAME Act: Bill to Fund Forest Fire Assistance
Representative Raúl M. Grijalva, Chairman of the Subcommitee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, praised the passage of the “Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement Act” (FLAME Act) (HR. 5541).  Rep. Grijalva is an original sponsor with Representative Rahall, Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, of the bill which creates funds for federal agencies at the start of forest fire season. 

“As our communities see longer and more intense fire seasons, this bill allows us to be proactive,” stated Grijalva.  “Public land managers can have the resources for prevention and protection without destroying their day to day operational budget.”

The FLAME Act aims to prevent future catastrophic, wildland fires from crippling federal land management agency budgets by creating an emergency federal fund dedicated solely to fighting these devastating fires, separate from appropriated agency fire fighting funding.  Over the last decade, the rapid increase in destructive forest fires across the United States has caused federal fire suppression costs to skyrocket– dramatically shifting spending priorities at the expense of other important Interior Department and Forest Service programs, especially programs that would reduce the intensity of fires and protect communities. 

During hearings held by Chairman Grijalva in his public lands subcommittee, issues were raised such as the growing problem of wildland fire suppression funding the Bush Administration has consistently cut funding for hazardous fuels treatments to prevent wildland fires.  The lack of funding for hazardous fuels treatments has resulted in many communities with NEPA-approved hazardous fuels projects not funded or implemented. 

“As droughts increase throughout Southern Arizona, we must invest in a program that funds preventative measures,” stated Rep. Grijalva. “We cannot financially or environmentally afford to always be on the defensive when it comes to wildland fires.”

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