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2015 Wildfire Season Breaks Records—Congress Sticks With the Status Quo

Congress could have had a landmark moment—but it stopped short of passing the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act. Meanwhile the wildfire season is wrapping up as the most expensive ever.
December 19, 2015, 9am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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"The 2015 wildfire season is now the costliest on record," reports Doyle Rice. The U.S. Forest Service announced earlier this week that the cost of fighting fires had reached $1.71 billion. "The previous record of $1.67 billion, adjusted for inflation, was set in fiscal year 2002," adds Rice. 

2015 also came close to setting a record for total area covered by fires. According to data from the National Interagency Fire Center, 9.8 million acres burned in 2015, compared to 9.87 million acres in 2006.

Rice also notes the failure of the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act in Congress. The "bipartisan effort that would have treated wildfires more like other natural disasters and ended the transfer of money from other programs to battle the blazes," but it didn't make it into the omnibus spending bill.

In a separate article, Jeff Mapes provides more background on the close-but-no-cigar effort to reform wildfire funding at the federal level. Mapes provides more details about the reforms included in the bill as well as details about why the legislation failed.

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Published on Thursday, December 17, 2015 in USA Today
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