Sunday, September 21st, 2014

The Obameter

Pursue a wildfire management plan

"Will aggressively pursue an effective fire prevention, mitigation and land and forest management plan that decreases the fire risks that many communities are now
facing. When wildfire threatens lives and property, an Obama-Biden Administration will increase the federal government's commitment to field the most professional, well-trained, and well-coordinated wildfire fighting force in the world. Unlike the Bush Administration, they will not finance these efforts by raiding the budgets relied upon by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to provide public access to, and manage, the more than 430 million acres of public lands that they oversee. Barack Obama will work with Governors, Congress and local officials on a bipartisan basis to develop and enact reliable, dedicated funding sources to fight the most catastrophic fires so that public lands may continue to be managed for public access, fish, wildlife, recreation, forestry and other multiple uses."

Updates

Interior Department bill delivers on Obama's wildfire promises

President Barack Obama set some big goals for wildfire management during his campaign, and the Interior Department funding bill he recently signed delivers on his main goals.
 
As part of his budget, Obama asked Congress to create a $75 million reserve fund to fight wildfires in addition to fully funding existing wildfire programs.
 
Overall, the Interior Department funding bill, which Obama signed into law on Oct. 30, 2009, includes $1.85 billion for wildfire suppression, which is $526 million above the previous year. Additionally, the bill includes $556.5 for projects to trim trees, shrubs and other fire fuel in vulnerable areas -- about $25 million more than last year -- and $110 million for State Fire Assistance grants, $20 million more than a year earlier.

Lastly, the bill includes $474 million for the reserve fund Obama talked about on the campaign trail. That's more than six times the amount of money Obama had originally asked for.
 
The "FLAME Fund" is meant to help the Department of Interior cover the costs of large or complex fires, as well as serve as a reserve when other wildfire fighting funds have run dry.

Land conservationists and groups representing outdoor enthusiasts hailed the effort.
 
The American Hiking Society called the FLAME Fund "the most promising mechanism for addressing the escalating costs of emergency fire suppression. It will allow agencies to fight major fires without taking the drastic step of transferring funds from other essential programs such as trails, maintenance, safety, and interpretation," according to a Oct. 6 press release.
 
Steven Koehn, president of the National Association of State Foresters, said, "President Obama and Congress have demonstrated that the status quo was no longer working and a new budget scenario was needed. This legislation says loud and clear that funding for emergency fire events should not come at the expense of all other Forest Service and Interior activities."
 
The groups also praised Obama's overall funding increases for wildfire fighting.
 
So, when it comes to wildfires, Obama met and exceeded his original promise. We rate this one a Promise Kept.

Sources:

The White House, Interior Department budget , accessed Nov. 11, 2009

House Appropriations Committee, Interior Department appropriations bill summary , accessed Nov. 11, 209

The American Hiking Society, statement onf the FLAME Act , accessed Nov. 11, 2009

The National Association of State Foresters, statement on the FLAME Act , accessed Nov. 11, 2009