As in the last several years, the Interior Department is likely to come up short on funds to fight wildfires . . .
This year’s wildfires could cost almost half a billion dollars more than what the U.S. Forest Service has budgeted, according to Department of Interior estimates.
In a report to Congress released Thursday, DOI officials said they may need $1.8 billion for firefighting this season. But they have only $1.4 billion budgeted for the work.
“While our agencies will spend the necessary resources to protect people, homes and our forests, the high levels of wildfire this report predicts would force us to borrow funds from forest restoration, recreation and other areas,” Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment Robert Bonnie said in a news release. Both President Barack Obama’s proposed budget and legislation currently before Congress would allow the Forest Service to pay for fire expenses the same way the federal government assists natural disasters like hurricanes and floods.