This year’s U.S. wildfire suppression costs are the highest ever

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In Washington, D.C., U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that wildland fire suppression costs for the fiscal year have exceeded $2 billion, making 2017 the most expensive year on record. Wildfires have ravaged states in the west, Pacific Northwest, and Northern Rockies regions of the United States this summer.

The fire suppression portion of the Forest Service budget is funded on a rolling ten-year average of appropriations, but during this time, the overall Forest Service budget has remained relatively flat. Because the fire seasons are longer and conditions are worse, the ten-year rolling fire suppression budget average keeps rising, chewing up a greater percentage of the total Forest Service budget each year.

At the peak of Western fire season, there were three times as many uncontained large fires on the landscape as compared to the five-year average, and almost three times as many personnel assigned to fighting the fires.