President Obama To Propose Changes To Wildfire Funding

MGN Online
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WASHINGTON - President Obama is set to propose changes to the way the federal government pays to fight wildfires.

The President will discuss the proposal during a scheduled meeting with Western governors from states impacted by wildfires and droughts.

The proposal will allow the Interior and Agriculture Departments, the two agencies tasked with fighting wildfires, to be able to draw funds from a special disaster account when the cost of tackling fires exceeds their annual budget. It a similar course of action the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can take when dealing with other natural disasters like hurricanes or tornadoes.

Last December, Governor Sandoval made a plea for more federal firefighting resources at the Western Governors' Association annual winter meeting. He said Nevada should be entitled to more federal attention since more than 80% of the state is federal land.

There is a growing concern that the severe drought affecting most of the Western states will play a role in making this year's wildfire season even more severe.

Last year, western Nevada saw its largest wildfire in recorded history. The Bison Fire which broke out in the Pine Nut range in Douglas County on July 4 burned a total of 24,000 acres and cost about $8 million to fight.

The proposal is expected to be included in President Obama's annual budget he is set to present to Congress in the next month.