Breaking: Wildfire Funding Finally Reformed!

After years of working to update the U.S. government's antiquated funding process for wildfire suppression, OIA is pleased that Congress has added a bipartisan and pragmatic solution, along with other recreation wins, to the must-pass $1.3 trillion omnibus spending package.

By Jessica Wahl March 22, 2018

We applaud Congress for listening to the outdoor recreation industry by including a wildfire funding fix and an increase in appropriations for our land management agencies and the Land and Water Conservation Fund in the omnibus package that passed last week. Please reach out to your representatives to thank them and show that the outdoor industry is paying attention to what is going on in Washington.

Over the past five years, OIA, along with a broad coalition of conservation and sportsmen’s organizations, the forestry industry and the agriculture community, has pushed Congress to fund wildfire suppression similar to other natural disasters and not pilfer unrelated recreation, conservation, mitigation and other accounts.

This action finally dedicates appropriate funding for wildfire mitigation and forest management and allows dollars appropriated for recreation programs, maintenance and infrastructure to stay in those accounts.

“OIA thanks the outdoor industry for its tireless efforts to educate Congress on the importance of fixing wildfire funding, and we thank Congress for getting it done in this omnibus package,” said Amy Roberts, executive director of OIA. “By stopping the practice of borrowing money, Congress has assured communities and businesses, particularly in the West, that recreation, conservation and other public land funding accounts won’t get siphoned when wildfires strike and that the necessary resources will be there when firefighting season begins in earnest.”

In addition to wildfire funding, these other OIA spending priorities fared well:

  • National Park Service funded at $3.2 billion, a $270 million increase over FY 2017
    • Includes an additional $140 million for deferred maintenance
  • Bureau of Land Management funded at $1.3 billion, a $79 million increase over FY 2017
    • Includes $50 million to address the maintenance backlog
  • LWCF funding increased to $425 million, a $25 million increase over FY 2017
    • Includes $20 million for an urban park competitive grant program
  • An improved reauthorization of Federal Land Transaction and Facilitation Act
  • Two-year extension of Secure Rural Schools with an additional $200 million annually for counties

The bill also avoided major conservation and environmental riders and included a provision to renew the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) for three years through the end of 2020. GSP provides duty-free access to the U.S. market on certain eligible products—including backpacks and duffel bags—for more than 100 developing countries including the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia. The bill renews GSP retroactive to January 1, 2018, and any duties paid on eligible products since then will be refunded.