FY25 budget boosts wildfire prevention funding, FAS calls for sustained efforts to tackle wildfire crisis

April 17, 2024

Overview of the FY25 budget and its implications for wildfire management

The latest federal budget proposal for fiscal year 2025 highlights significant increases in funding aimed at enhancing the capabilities and conditions of the U.S. wildfire management workforce.

As wildfires in the U.S. grow in size and severity, the budget request from the administration seeks not only to bolster the current response capacity but also to fortify long-term resilience against these natural disasters.

Jessica Blackband, a spokesperson for the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), emphasized the dual focus of the budget: “This budget recognizes the urgent need to support our wildland firefighters while also advancing our capacity for effective wildfire prevention.”

Detailed increases in wildfire-related funding

The proposed budget outlines specific funding increases for agencies involved in wildfire management.

The U.S. Forest Service is set to receive $2.6 billion for its Wildland Fire Management account, marking a 10% increase from the previous fiscal year.

This account includes $216 million aimed at enhancing base pay increases previously initiated under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).

Additionally, the budget proposes a $10 million investment towards health and wellbeing services for wildland firefighters.

The Department of the Interior would see a 16% increase in its Preparedness budget, totaling $569 million, with significant portions allocated to improving workforce capacity and compensation for wildland firefighters.

Furthermore, the Hazardous Fuels programs in the National Forest System account are slated for an 18% increase, totaling $207 million.

Impact on federal agencies and future directions

The budget also earmarks increased funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to enhance community preparedness and address issues related to wildfire smoke, respectively.

For instance, FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grants and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grants both see a 19% increase from FY 2024.

The EPA is set to maintain its Wildfire Smoke Preparedness grant program with a consistent funding level of $7 million, alongside a 6% increase in Categorical Grants to support air pollution control activities.

FSJA comment

The FY25 federal budget proposal articulates a clear commitment to strengthening wildfire management and prevention.

By increasing funding across various agencies and focusing on both immediate needs and long-term strategies, the budget aims to create a more resilient future in the face of increasing wildfire threats.

These financial commitments underscore the necessity of continued investment in both the workforce and technological advancements to mitigate the impacts of wildfires.

While the increases are a positive step toward addressing the escalating challenges posed by wildfires, they also highlight the ongoing need for strategic and sustained funding to ensure that the U.S. can effectively manage and mitigate the risks associated with these natural disasters.

The acknowledgment by federal agencies of the importance of both reactive measures and proactive strategies suggests a comprehensive approach to wildfire management moving forward.

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