Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines joined late last week in calling to reform the way firefighting costs are paid for on public lands.

Senator Tester:

“We have to start using common sense and budget for catastrophic wildfires like we do for hurricanes and other natural disasters,” Tester said.  “Because Congress hasn’t acted, the Forest Service is on its way to being nothing but a fire fighting agency, and folks who make a living on our public lands are paying the price.”

Senator Daines:

“Montana has already experienced several high-intensity fires this year. The fire season thus far has been one of the worst in the past decade and has only made more evident the urgent need for a wildfire funding solution. It is critical that Congress end fire borrowing and ensure that the Forest Service can spend more of its budget on making our National Forests more resilient to fire, while also equipping the agency with the tools and authorities it needs to restore active management.”

The U.S. Forest Service reported that wildfire costs have consumed 52 percent of the Forest Service's budget for 2015, compared with just 16 percent 20 years ago. The report also projects that wildfire costs could consume two-thirds of the agency's budget in 2025.