President Donald Trump proposed a $12.8 billion 2021 budget for the Department of the Interior, including a $50 million initiative that would begin to transform and build a more stable and permanent wildland firefighting workforce to better align with the challenges of prolonged periods of wildfire activity and the need to more aggressively implement active vegetation management, according to a statement from the department.
Overall, $1 billion is being requested specifically for wildland fire programs, that in part implement active vegetation management practices in an effort to reduce hazardous fuel loads and suppress active wildfires on public lands.
“In 2019, we treated over 1.4 million acres, but we must recognize that the length of our fire season is getting longer; fires are large; and risks are higher. Therefore, we must innovate to strengthen our wildland fire and active management capability,” said Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. “We are also extremely appreciative of (the Monday, Feb. 10) proposal to once again include the creation of the Public Lands Infrastructure Fund, and we remain optimistic that Congress will finally address the tremendous backlog caused by insufficient funds to appropriately maintain our national parks, our Indian schools and Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management facilities.”
In addition to these highlights, the budget is an attempt to strike a balance between development and conservation; fulfills trust responsibilities for Alaska Native and Tribal communities; looks to improve visitor experiences at our nation’s natural and historical areas; enables reliable water supplies and delivery to people in the West; and makes strategic investments to increase broadband access in rural areas, critical mineral development and law enforcement.