Fire Fighters Struggle With Flames and Budgets

Fire Fighters Struggle With Flames and Budgets

Every summer there is another record breaking forest fire immolating homeowners and ravaging communities.  2013 is no exception.

Throughout the American West, the United States Forest Service is scrambling to evacuate homes and contain destructive wildfires.  These fire epidemics are getting worse every summer.  Analysts blame urban encroaching into forests, global warming drying out the West, and bad luck.

Meanwhile, Washington’s sequestration and budget cuts have just axed the wildfire protection budget by more than forty-percent.

A gridlocked congress’s inability to act has pushed President Obama to preemptively reducing programs to offset future spending caps.  These cuts are on top of the millions lost to the sequestration eroding the Forest Service’s budget.  The Hazardous Fuels Reduction Program, responsible for controlling damaging megablazes,  has lost $208 million of its original $500 million dollar budget.   As the Forest Service chooses how to allocate its meager resources, experts are predicting worsening fires throughout  the foreseeable future.

The United States must invest in wildfire protection instead of cutting funding.  It also must spend smarter.  Proactive strategy, ranging from clearing at-risk brush to lighting clearing fires, are progressively considered the best option for the fiscally starved Forest Service.  Rather than fighting megablazes head on preemptive action curtails megablazes from ever burning out of control of threatening communities.  These preventive methods are the cheapest option to saving endangered towns; every dollar spent on prevention multiplies itself into ten dollars saved on firefighter costs.  To unlock the funds needed to reinstate funding to the Forest Services it will take political action from Congress, the institution originally responsible for the crippling cuts.

Many Republican Congressmen, ironically representing  the fire-plagued west, are responsible for the sequestration and budget cuts.  These austerity hawks are endeavoring to “starve the beast” of big government; by choking off the federal programs and taxes these zealots intend to force the nation towards smaller government.  The Republican leadership is now self-immolating its own districts to uphold a deranged ideology.  It’s no wonder Congress’s approval rating has plunged to ten percent.  Another record.

 

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