The President’s 2024 budget supports efforts to address the nation’s wildfire crisis

Press release from USDA

The Biden-Harris administration presented the president’s fiscal 2024 budget to Congress on Thursday, which includes significant increases in funding for wildfires and hazardous fuel management. These investments will help solve the nation’s wildfire crisis and implement comprehensive reforms for wildland fire management workers that provide stronger financial and health support for wildland firefighters, who are the backbone of wildland fire management nationwide.

Workforce reforms proposed in the 2024 budget request will increase the pay of federal and tribal firefighters, invest more in their mental and physical health and well-being, improve their housing options, and expand the number of permanent firefighters. These reforms build on temporary wage increases set by the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Permanent wage reforms require enabling legislation, and the administration is committed to working with congressional officials to craft a comprehensive legislative proposal.

“Wildland firefighters save lives, protect communities and serve on the front lines to address our nation’s wildfire crisis,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We need to take better care of them in return by addressing issues that have plagued them for decades. Better care means better pay and benefits, better housing, better mental and physical health resources, and better work-life balance for these people who have given so much.”

“Wildfires driven by climate change and ongoing drought continue to reinforce the need for a well-supported wildland fire management workforce available year-round to protect lives, communities, infrastructure and ecosystems across the country,” said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. “The President’s 2024 budget proposal supports our continued efforts to move from a temporary, seasonal workforce to a more permanent team that can manage wildfires year-round, including fire risk reduction activities across the country.”

Last year, nearly 69,000 wildfires burned more than 7.5 million acres across the country. On average, wildfire activity, severity, size, and cost are escalating. Larger, more intense and more difficult to control, wildfires threaten lives, communities and valuable resources. In addition, wildland firefighters, now facing a fire year instead of a fire season, are spending more time on the fire line and less time at home.

The 2024 budget request for the USDA Forest Service for wildfire and hazardous fuel management is $2.97 billion, which is $647 million, or 28% above the comparable 2023 level. For more information, visit forest administration. The Department of the Interior’s (DOI) wildfire and hazardous fuels management fiscal year 2024 budget request totals $1.33 billion, which is $233.1 million, or 21%, above the comparable 2023 level. For more information, visit website of the department.

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