This past April, agencies responsible for fire prevention in the San Diego area were warning the Bush Administration not to cut funding for deadwood removal, saying it was only a matter of time before another major fire.
"Across San Diego County's fire country, an alliance of agencies has spent about $50 million to clear dead trees and overgrown brush after blazes charred much of the region in 2003.
But now, the federal fire-prevention money for their work is drying up. Priorities in Washington, D.C., have shifted to paying for national defense, cleanups after Hurricane Katrina and other needs, forestry experts say.
The group said Thursday that the administration of President Bush has proposed cutting 14 percent of the budget for a critical fire-prevention fund – one that has paid for work in San Diego County – when what it needed was an 85 percent increase.
To make matters worse, drought conditions that stress forests and make them susceptible to insect infestations aren't abating. In certain places, 80 percent of the trees are dead.
Without enough fire-prevention money, they say, it is only a matter of time before the county faces another massive wildfire."