Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the U.S. Forest Service will soon have to tap into programs designed to prevent wildfires so that it can meet the expenses of fighting blazes this summer.
Vilsack says about $400 million to $500 million in forestry projects will have to be put on hold in what has become a routine exercise. He predicted that the money set aside strictly for firefighting will run out by the end of August.
Some 30 large fires are working their way through federal and state forests in California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho. With lawmakers back home for the August recess and the public’s attention focused on those efforts, Vilsack is lobbying for the administration’s request for an additional $615 million to fight wildfires this fiscal year and next.