Governors, President discussing budget for fighting wildfires

In this Friday, Aug. 30, 2013 photo provided by the U.S. Forest Service, a member of the Monterey Hotshots carries a gas can near a burn operation on the southern flank of the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park in California. The wildfire burning in and around Yosemite National Park has become the fourth-largest conflagration in California history. (AP Photo/U.S. Forest Service, Mike McMillan)
In this Friday, Aug. 30, 2013 photo provided by the U.S. Forest Service, a member of the Monterey Hotshots carries a gas can near a burn operation on the southern flank of the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park in California. The wildfire burning in and around Yosemite National Park has become the fourth-largest conflagration in California history. (AP Photo/U.S. Forest Service, Mike McMillan)

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.

 

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