COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) – President Barack Obama is encouraging Western governors to support a plan to budget for fighting wildfires, instead of raiding funding for mitigation efforts.
Obama made the pitch by telephone Monday to governors meeting in Colorado Springs for the annual Western Governors Association conference.
Proposals pending in Congress would create an emergency fund to fight wildfires.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was also on the call, and says that fighting wildfires this year will cost about $1.8 billion. That’s $470 million more than what Congress has budgeted.
That means the U.S. Forest Service ends up borrowing that money by using existing funds meant for fire prevention efforts.
The governors received a report from the Agriculture Department showing what projects in their states have been delayed because of the funding shift.