The Antiplanner | Randal O'Toole | New Fire Plan: Burn More MoneyDo I have this right? In order to prevent the occasional $1B in destruction Washington is spending ~$3B annually.
In the late 1990s, the Forest Service spent about $300 million a year on fire and the Department of the Interior spent another $100 million a year. Then came the 2000 Cerro Grande fire, which burned a billion dollars worth of homes in Los Alamos, NM. After that, Congress opened up the checkbook and told the agencies to spend whatever it takes to keep such a fire from happening again.
The agencies have taken full advantage of this. In 2010, the Forest Service budget for fire was $2.1 billion and USDI’s was more than $850 million. That’s just the budget; the agencies had another $500 million or so to draw upon if they ran over their budgets; if they didn’t go over their budgets, they got to keep the surplus for future years.
That can't be, right. Right? Can it? I hope it isn't. This obviously fails the smell test, but such tests are no longer reliable since the federal budget always smells like horseshit, even when accurately reported.