US forest chief: ‘Tough choices’ to fund wildfire prevention

New Mexico

FILE – This July 5, 2011, file photo, shows a grove of ponderosa pines charred by the Las Conchas fire near Cochiti Mesa, N.M. The U.S. Forest Service has been working with states and other partners to treat more acres every year in hopes of reducing the threat of catastrophic wildfire, but Forest Chief Vicki Christiansen acknowledged that a budget proposal for the next fiscal year reflects “tough choices and tradeoffs” that will mean no funding for some programs. Christiansen said during a congressional hearing Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, that while the budget request emphasizes the agency’s most critical work, it marks a starting point for negotiations. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan, File)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The head of the U.S. Forest Service says her agency is working with partners to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire, but acknowledged that a budget proposal for the next fiscal year reflects “tough choices and trade-offs.”

Some senators are concerned about zeroing out forest restoration program funding that has helped finance projects covering thousands of acres in over a dozen states.

Hotter and drier conditions across the West are making wildfires more intense and destructive as they burn through overgrown forests, with California among the hardest hit. U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico says a bipartisan contingent of lawmakers want as much funding restored as possible in the face of a changing climate.

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