WASHINGTON D.C.: The Biden Administration announced this week an additional expenditure of $490 million to combat the growing threat of wildfires in the western US.
Authorized by last year's Inflation Reduction Act, the move comes after massive wildfires ravaged North and South America, Europe, Australia and parts of Asia in 2022, which were driven by warmer and drier weather, according to scientists.
"It is no longer a matter of if a wildfire will threaten many western communities in these landscapes, it is a matter of when. The need to invest more and to move quickly is apparent. This is a crisis and President Biden is treating it as one," said US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Controlled burns and the removal of dead wood and vegetation in forest in Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington would be funded by the extra money, Vilsack added.
In 2022, the Biden administration announced a 10-year plan to treat and maintain millions of additional acres of forests in the western US to ease the severity of seasonal blazes, with some $440 million being provided by the Infrastructure Act of 2021.
The US Forest Service, part of the Department of Agriculture, manages some 2 million acres in the western US.
According to US government statistics, in 2022 wildfires burned more than 7.5 million acres in the US, causing billions of dollars in damage.