Press Release of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer

For Immediate Release:
July 11, 2008  
Contact:
Washington D.C. Office (202) 224-3553

Boxer Introduces FLAME Act  

House-passed legislation establishes federal wildfire fighting fund Friday, July 11, 2008

Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today introduced the Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement (FLAME) Act, legislation establishing a federal fund designated specifically to help cover the costs of fighting catastrophic wildfires such as those raging in California.  

The legislation was first introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), and Norm Dicks (D-WA), and passed the House unanimously on July 9th.  

Over the last month, nearly 1,800 fires have been reported in California and more than 688,000 acres have burned. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and President Bush declared a state of emergency in eleven counties in the state, and crews are still working to bring under control more than 300 fires.  

Senator Boxer said, “When it comes to fighting dangerous wildfires like those burning in California right now, we need all of the help we can get from the federal government. By establishing a dedicated federal fund, we will ensure that the Forest Service isn’t forced to drain other important accounts to pay for catastrophic wildfires. I hope the Senate will act quickly on this legislation– even as we work today to extinguish these fires, we must prepare for more tough fights in the future.”

Representative Rahall said, “Agencies of the Interior Department and the Forest Service have been forced to ‘Rob Peter to Pay Paul' by borrowing funds from other agency accounts to cover the escalating costs of fire suppression. The FLAME Act's dedicated fund will provide for more predictability and will allow the Forest Service and other land management agencies to continue to do what they do best - manage our nation's unique and vast public lands. As brave fire fighters in California beat back the flames and protect our lands and communities, I commend Senator Boxer for taking the initiative to create this much-needed FLAME Fund.”  

The Forest Service and the Department of Interior have already been forced to borrow funds from other agency accounts to cover the escalating costs of fighting wildfires.  

The wildfire fighting fund established by the legislation will be appropriated by Congress based on the average costs incurred by these agencies to suppress catastrophic, emergency wildfires over the preceding five fiscal years. The legislation also requires the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture to submit a report to Congress one year after enactment outlining a comprehensive wildfire management strategy that incorporates recent recommendations by the GAO and Inspector General of the Department of Agriculture.