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Wisconsin Forest Advocates Back Changes To Wildfire Funds

Federal Rules Would Benefit State Timber Industry, Supporters Say

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (CC-BY-ND)

President Barack Obama wants to change the way the federal government pays to fight forest fires.

Currently, the money for fighting fires comes from general forest budgets, but changes in the most recent White House budget would treat fires like other natural disasters and end a process known as “fire borrowing.”

Jane Severt welcomes the news. She is the executive director of the Wisconsin County Forests Association, and even though the counties aren’t directly affected by “fire borrowing,” she said the proposed change will help Wisconsin’s overall timber industry.

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“So there’s been a decrease in the harvesting on our national forest lands here in Wisconsin, as there has been in other states. That is of concern to our forest products industry in the state and also to local communities,” Severt said. “What happens on the national forest directly impacts the people we work with every day.”

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin was a co-sponsor of the fire borrowing bill.