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Individual Highlight

Helping federal agencies manage fire budgets

Photo of Snapshot : Budgeting for wildfire suppression is increasingly difficult for federal for the Forest Service and Department of the Interior. In the past, fire suppression activities were often funded at the expense of other agency programs. The FLAME Act of 2009, which provides funding for wildfire suppression, also presents the challenge of accurately estimating fire suppression costs as far as 3 years out. Southern Research Station (SRS) scientists are improving tools to make the estimates needed for FLAME Act funding.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Prestemon, Jeffrey P. Abt, Karen Lee
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2011
Highlight ID : 413


Uncertainty about how much funding will be needed for future wildfire suppression presents an ongoing challenge to federal land management agency policymakers and administrators. The FLAME Act of 2009 was passed to help create a dedicated, steady and predictable funding stream for wildfire suppression activities. The Forest Service and Department of Interior were expected to develop new methods for formulating fire suppression funding estimates as part of the legislation. As part of the federal budgetary process, the land-management agencies must provide estimates of the funding needed to suppress wildfires 3 years before the season begins. Southern Research Station scientists have worked to develop better tools for anticipating future expenditures for wildfire suppression for the Forest Service and for the Department of Interior. Linked to various leading indicators of weather patterns such as the North Atlantic Oscillation and ocean temperatures, they developed regression models for forecasting Forest Service suppression spending at 1-, 2-, and 3-year lead times as part of an ongoing research effort to improve the accuracy and precision of fire cost forecasting in support of mandates from the FLAME Act. These forecasts continue to provide useful information for Fire and Aviation Management as they manage fire budgets in an environment of uncertainty.

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