IFC OKs $5 million for wildfire costs
The Interim Finance Committee voted on Wednesday to add more than $5 million to the Forestry Department budget to cover the costs of wildfires this past year. State forester Casey KC told lawmakers 1.3 million acres of Nevada was burned in the 2017 fire season and another 1.1 million acres so far in 2018.
She said there have been 615 fires as of this week, 322 of them human caused. She said the state’s expenses so far are at $32 million and she anticipates coming back for more money at the December IFC meeting.
“The request before you today is to pay the bills that are on our desk,” she said. “The overall cost for us is over $32 million.”
But she said she hopes to bring in a lot more money by the time many of those bills arrive and significantly offset that total.
To cover costs thus far, the committee approved moving $506,383 out of reserves into the wildland fire program and she asked for the $3.8 million in contingency funding approved last week by the Board of Examiners. But Chairman Sen. Joyce Woodhouse, D-Las Vegas, said all parties have since agreed to add $792,438 to that total to fully fund the salary costs of fighting fires this year, bringing the total to $4.59 million plus the half-million from reserves.
She told the committee the problem is three years after a wet year are historically the worst fire seasons and this is the second year of that cycle. She said the state is facing an increasingly long fire season that has expanded to up to 10 months of the year.