Wildfires are on our minds as over 50,000 acres of forest have burned in Western North Carolina. This is a reminder that fire management is an essential function of the U.S. Forest Service, which will have to spend increasingly more of its budget to fight larger, more dangerous fires due to a warming and drying climate. Congressional action is needed to fix to the Forest Service budget, ensuring dedicated firefighting budget. Unfortunately, efforts underway to provide such funding in the Western United States may come with damaging—and unnecessary—strings attached: the dismantling of key environmental protections for all national forests, including our Southeastern forests. Bills that would remove important protections for Southeastern forests are primed to be added into unrelated legislation when Congress returns, post-election, for its lame duck session.
Tell your representatives that any wildfire bill should be a clean funding fix, focusing solely on wildfire suppression and prevention where needed, not broadly dismantling forest protections.