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Boone and Crockett Club: Wildfire Funding Fix Picks Up Support
Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The group behind the creation of our national forest system - the Boone and Crockett Club - applauds Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) for introducing a bill to fix the chronic funding shortfall for catastrophic wildfires. The National Flood Insurance Reauthorization Act of 2017 includes a title allowing the Forest Service to tap disaster funding, appropriately treating catastrophic wildfires like hurricanes and other natural disasters.

Fighting forest fires is the responsibility of the U.S. Forest Service, as is maintaining these lands for the betterment of the people. In a bad fire year fighting wildfires eats up to 53 percent of the Forest Service's annual budget. The consequence of which is the Forest Service's inability to do the forest thinning work necessary to keep fire events small and contained in the first place.

"This year's crop of forest fires is already springing up, and just like in years past we'll see more and more of the Forest Service's management budget go up in smoke," said Ben B. Hollingsworth, Jr., president of the Boone and Crockett Club. "In the legacy of our founder, Idaho's U.S. Senator Mike Crapo is to be commended for stepping up with common sense legislation to deal with keeping our federal forest lands in healthy, productive condition."
Club founder, Theodore Roosevelt was a strong advocate for federal public lands managed for multiple use. When Club members established the national forest system and then the U.S. Forest Service, Roosevelt appointed fellow Club member Gifford Pinchot as its first chief in 1905. Roosevelt and the Club viewed federal public lands as not only critical habitat for wildlife, but critical recreational grounds for all people.

"The health of our federal public lands should be a concern to everyone, especially those who rely on these lands for livelihoods and recreation," explained Hollingsworth. "With so much of the Forest Service's funds going toward extinguishing larger and hotter fires little is left for the business of ecosystem management. Yes, fire suppression is part of the agency's job, but there is more to keeping public forests and range lands in healthy condition and usable, and this bill is a great start to allowing the agency to get back to the other side of its business."

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