Right now, there are more than 65 wildfires burning in a dozen western states. Areas from Alaska to Texas are up in flames. They are being tackled by brave men and women risking their lives to save ours.
In California, nearly 70,000 acres have burned since the beginning of the year, double the amount in the same time period last year. Last week, nearly 3000 people were evacuated due to an uncontrolled inferno in Santa Barbara County. And in Yosemite National Park a blaze is currently bearing down on 5,000 homes. And despite the increased annual risk of forest fires, President Trump is proposing severe cuts to the US Forest Service (USFS) - one of the key agencies charged with beating back the flames that ravage the west every year.
Under Trump’s proposed budget for next year, the USFS “will face a $300 million reduction to its wildfire fighting programs, another $50 million in cuts to its wildfire prevention efforts and a 23 percent reduction to funding for volunteer fire departments.”
With the recent droughts and the devastating effects of climate change, now more than never, we need to increase rather than pull back fire suppression programs. These programs not only help protect our lives but also the lives of the firefighters who work to put out the flames. Training, equipment and firefighting innovations all play a role in keeping us safe.
We depend on these brave public servants as our first line of defense. Now it is time that we defend them and make sure that they have everything they need before going into the fire. Tell Congress to reject Trump’s proposed budget and ask them to increase the USFS’ budget.