Governor Chris Sununu and Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed a joint letter to House and Senate leadership Monday, calling on Congress to increase funding for fighting and preventing forest fires.
“This is far from just a ‘Western’ issue,” they wrote, arguing the Forest Service is increasingly allocating its funds to fight fires at the expense of other priorities.
The budget for trails in the White Mountain National Forest, for example, has declined more than 30 percent in the last two years, according to the letter. Less funding has also been available for programs that work with private landowners on forest stewardship. These programs support rural communities in both New Hampshire and Vermont, Sununu and Scott wrote.
“This is a place, and perhaps a rare place, where i think there's a pretty bi-partisan understanding,” said Mark Zankel, director of the Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire, which supports proposed federal legislation to change the way funding is allocated for fighting and preventing forest fires.
A combination of climate change, increased land development and lack of funding for fire suppression has lead the cost of fire management to jump, he said.
Read Sununu and Scott’s full letter: