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The Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable (ORIR) has expressed its strong support for the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act, legislation introduced in 2017 in both the United States Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.

According to a press release, in a Jan. 17 letter to House and Senate leadership, as well as other key members of Congress and administration officials, ORIR urged the nation’s leaders to reform the federal funding formula for wildfire suppression.

“Using 10-year average suppression costs for budgeting constrains non-suppression federal agency efforts. . . [and] jeopardizes public lands recreation programs vital to our segment of the US economy,” the letter stated.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the cost of wildfire suppression in national forests surpassed $2.3 billion in 2017, consuming an increasing share of the U.S. Forest Service budget.

More than 8.5 million acres burned and vital recreation infrastructure was destroyed.  As a result, investment in trails, campgrounds and other recreation infrastructure, desperately in need of modernization, has declined.  The agency estimates that it will devote more than 66% of its budget to firefighting by 2021, compared to 16% in 1995.

To read ORIR’s full letter click here.