Above: Wildfire suppression costs for USFS and DOI adjusted for inflation. By Bean.
One of our regular readers, Bean, took the annual wildfire suppression costs for the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of the Interior and adjusted them for inflation using the Consumer Price Index.
“2017 was a record but there were other very expensive years”, Bean said. “Looks to me like there was an accounting methodology change from 1999 to 2000 or a big change in the way fires were fought. Pre 2000 costs are almost 2x lower than post 2000 costs. Other observation … from 2000 to 2016 there wasn’t much of a cost trend. Of course, if the USFS budget isn’t keeping pace with inflation, things get to looking very bad as far as suppression cost as a % of their budget.”
Bean’s figures taking into account inflation can be compared to the unadjusted numbers.
Like Bean said, if the total budget for the Forest Service continues to be locked in at the same amount year after year, funding the fire organization at the 2015 10-year average is going to be very difficult. The ultimate fire funding fix would include, in addition to establishing in advance a special account for high-cost years, stop cutting (in real dollars) the total amount appropriated for the Forest Service.
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Bean.
Typos or errors, report them HERE.