The Price of Climate Change: Wildfires Are Burning Through the National Forest Budget

Climate change is here. “We can see it, and we can feel it,” as President Obama said recently.

The U.S. Forest Service is feeling it especially lately. For the first time in its 110-year history, the agency is spending more of its budget on fighting wildfires than on all its other services combined.

In 1995, the Forest Service, part of the Department of Agriculture, allocated 16 percent of its budget for wildfire suppression.

This year, that cost is expected to triple, with $1.2 billion to be spent and dozens of wildfires still burning. In Alaska, a series of record-breaking 90-degree-Fahrenheit spring days helped trigger wildfires that have so far charred 5 million acres of the state. In California, 10,000 firefighters are battling 14 wildfires.

Since 2000, 10 states have endured their largest wildfire on record.

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