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Congress studies new way to fund massive wildfires

BOISE, Idaho –_ A bipartisan effort is underway in Congress to change the
way the country pays to battle its most catastrophic wildfires.

Lawmakers from Oregon and Idaho met with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on
Monday to discuss the budget reform.

President Barack Obama’s proposed budget would prevent the diversion of money
intended for forest thinning and other wildfire prevention efforts.

Historically as fire season progressed, money that had been set aside to thin
forests and restore burned land was taken and used to pay for fighting the
biggest blazes.

Legislation introduced in Congress would direct that when firefighting costs
reach 70 percent of the 10-year average, firefighting agencies could dip into
the government’s fund for battling natural disasters like hurricanes.

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