U.S. Forest Service over budget after fire season

U.S. Forest Service over budget after fire season

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - The United States Forest Service is $400 million over budget following last year's busy fire season.

A report by the National Interagency Fire Center shows hundreds of millions of dollars were spent fighting fires in Idaho and California.

A United States Department of Agriculture spokesperson said having less money in the agency's budget could result in 500 fewer firefighters nationwide, 50-70 fewer available engines, and will impact aviation assets.

Severe fire conditions are expected for the season ahead, but the Forest Service will continue to work with state, local, and inter agency partners. One partner is the Bureau of Land Management, which is in the process of hiring seasonal firefighters.

"We're definitely going to be looking at all of our avenues, utilizing our inter agency efforts to really target fires as aggressively as we did in the past," said Public Affairs Officer Sarah Wheeler.

According to Wheeler, there were 73 human-caused fires last year. About 13,989 human acres were burned because of those fires. Forty-eight fires were caused by lightning and about 62,969 acres were burned. In total there were 121 fires in 2012.

A USDA spokesperson said state-by-state impacts on the U.S. Forest Service are not  known at this time.

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