Intense Wildfire Season Anticipated in West

With drought showing signs of worsening across the West and Upper Midwest, the Forest Service anticipates that it may spend up to $1.6 billion fighting wildfires in 2015, in a fire season that is expected to be worse than normal.
U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said Tuesday in testimony before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, "We anticipate another active fire year, underscoring the need to reform our wildfire funding."
Tidwell said to fight the fires, it may be necessary to divert funding from agency wildfire risk reduction programs such as prescribed burning and forest thinning. Over the past decade, the Forest Service has spent an average of $1.1 billion to fight wildfires each year.
Drought, likely influenced by climate change, is one of the biggest factors affecting the spread of wildfires in the West. Climate change has helped spike the cost of fire suppression in the West as fire seasons have grown longer, forests have become wracked by drought and wildfires have become larger, more frequent and more severe.



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