Congressman John Garamendi

Representing the 3rd District of California
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Garamendi Urges Action on Wildfire Funding

October 27, 2014
Press Release

Click here to watch a news report on changing how we combat wildfires

YUBA CITY, CA – Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA-03), a former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi urging an immediate vote on wildfire funding when Congress returns to Washington during the November-December “lame duck” session.

“The U.S. Forest Service receives funding to respond to wildfires, but each year, those funds are depleted, forcing the Forest Service to transfer money from fire prevention to fire suppression,” Garamendi wrote. “This transfer takes much-needed funding from forest management and fire prevention efforts, resulting in an endless and vicious cycle of devastating wildfires, dangerous containment efforts, and scant resources for prevention of the next big fire.”

“I urge you to attach H.R. 3992, the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act of 2014, to any possible legislative vehicle moving through Congress before the end of the year,” Garamendi continued. “If enacted, the bill would set aside a cash reserve for the Forest Service and the Department of Interior to use if their own firefighting allotments run out.  It would also allow certain wildfires to be treated as natural disasters and enable emergency funding resources to be used to suppress such fires. This approach has the bipartisan support of 137 members of Congress, several federal agencies, several state governments, and a variety of conservation and forestry groups.”

In July, Garamendi signed a discharge petition that would have required a vote on H.R. 3992 had the discharge petition been signed by a majority of voting Members of Congress. In September, Garamendi held a press conference at a CAL FIRE station in Davis with representatives from CAL FIRE, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, California Forestry Association, National Parks Conservation Fund, and The Nature Conservancy urging immediate action to pass H.R. 3992 and to adopt a smarter approach to combating wildfires. To date, the House Majority leadership has refused to allow a vote on improving wildfire management funding despite bipartisan support for this needed preventative and cost-effective approach.

The complete letter is linked here and the text is included immediately below:

Dear Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi:

As the 2nd Session of the 113th Congress draws to a close, it is imperative that you take up and pass wildfire funding legislation before the end of the year.  Whether the matter is tackled through consideration of a standalone bill or attaching language to other legislation making its way to the President’s desk, it can and must be done.

In 2014 alone, there have been over 40,000 wildfires across the U.S., and over 3 million acres have burned.  The U.S. Forest Service receives funding to respond to wildfires, but each year, those funds are depleted, forcing the Forest Service to transfer money from fire prevention to fire suppression.  This transfer takes much-needed funding from forest management and fire prevention efforts, resulting in an endless and vicious cycle of devastating wildfires, dangerous containment efforts, and scant resources for prevention of the next big fire. 

I urge you to attach H.R. 3992, the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act of 2014, to any possible legislative vehicle moving through Congress before the end of the year.  This bill has the bipartisan support of 137 members of Congress, several federal agencies, several state governments, and a variety of conservation and forestry groups.  If enacted, the bill would set aside a cash reserve for the Forest Service and the Department of Interior to use if their own firefighting allotments run out.  It would also allow certain wildfires to be treated as natural disasters and enable emergency funding resources to be used to suppress such fires.  By providing a more sustainable funding source for fire suppression, federal agencies would be able to continue working toward cooperative, integrated approaches to forest management without fear of running out of funds.  

If there is any hope of a future with fewer wildfires, the current broken system must be fixed so that state and federal agencies have adequate resources to properly manage forests and mitigate the risk of fires.  It is time to make a change, and I urge you to let this Congress tackle the challenge before the year ends.

Sincerely,

JOHN GARAMENDI
Member of Congress

Cc’ed: Senator Dianne Feinstein, Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers and Ranking Member Nita Lowey