US & World

Federal firefighting money helping California prevent wildfire growth

This hot, dry weather is a reminder that fire season is back – and won’t go away for a long time. Southern California has been asking for federal help in the firefighting effort. Much of the money is devoted to preventing wildfires from growing.

Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer says she wrote amendments to last year’s economic stimulus bill that added more than $500 million for wildfire prevention efforts nationwide.

"Senator Feinstein and I have worked very hard," she says, "to make sure that there’s funding so that in our local communities, we’ve been able to prepare and cut back on some of the overgrowth there. It’s very crucial because you can prepare for this, and we’ve worked very hard to do that."

Additional money was also included in the Interior Department’s budget for volunteer and rural fire agencies. And there is federal grant money available to help pay for firefighting on state and private lands – particularly in the "wildland-urban interface," the border between undeveloped lands such as forests, and developed areas such as homes and buildings.

More federal help could come from the U.S. Forest Service, which might drop its longstanding ban on night flights by water-dropping planes.