Montana Public Radio

Forest Service Predicts Above-Average Fire Season For Western U.S.

Jun 9, 2015

The Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior and the U.S. Forest Service chief expect above average wildfire activity this year, especially across the Western U.S.

The three held a telephone briefing with reporters yesterday afternoon on the upcoming 2015 wildfire season.

"We know that we’re facing another potentially severe and dangerous wildfire season," says Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.

"It is no question it’s exacerbated by climate change. It's led to prolonged western drought, and longer, hotter, drier fire seasons."

Jewell says these wildfires threaten lives, the environment, and property. This includes:  watersheds that supply municipal drinking water supplies, power grids, homes and businesses.

U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell says forecasts predict the possibility of an above average fire season in California, Oregon, Washington, Northern Idaho, and Western Montana.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the continuation of longer fire seasons with more catastrophic wildfires complicates the budgets of Agriculture and Interior.

The Secretaries are calling on Congress to reform the way wildfire suppression is funded.