U.S. Forest Service & Wildfires

According to a recently released report, costs to battle ever-increasing and massive wildfires have “decimated” the budget of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) charged with fighting the blazes. For the first time in its 110-year history, the USFS reports it spends more than 50% of its annual budget on firefighting at the expense of other programs to prevent the infernos.

Just 20 years ago, firefighting made up 16% of their annual budget. The report comes as dozens of blazes continue to scorch the parched West in one of the worst fire seasons in the nation's history—nearly 6 million acres have already been charred this year, mostly in the western U.S. and Alaska. That is about 2 million acres above average for this time of year. Due to the cost of fighting fires, the USFS has been forced to tap other funds (i.e., forest-thinning projects) to keep up with the blazes. "The agency is at a tipping point," the USFS said in the report, adding its annual budget today is nearly half a billion dollars less than in 1995 when adjusted for inflation.