Wildfire Suppression Spending: Background, Issues, and Legislation in the 115th Congress [November 8, 2017] [open pdf - 2MB]
"Congress has directed that the federal government is responsible for managing wildfires that begin on federal lands, such as national forests or national parks. States are responsible for managing wildfires that originate on all other lands. Although a greater number of wildfires occur annually on nonfederal lands, wildfires on federal lands tend to be much larger, particularly in the western United States. The federal government's wildfire management responsibilities--fulfilled primarily by the Forest Service (FS) and the Department of the Interior (DOI)--include preparedness, prevention, detection, response, suppression, and recovery. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also may provide disaster relief, mostly for certain nonfederal wildfires. Congress provides appropriations for wildfire management to both FS and DOI. Within these appropriations, suppression operations are largely funded through two accounts for each agency: Wildland Fire Management (WFM) accounts and Federal Land Assistance, Management, and Enhancement Act (FLAME) reserve accounts. If the suppression funding in both of these accounts is exhausted during a fiscal year, FS and DOI are authorized to transfer funds from their other accounts to pay for suppression activities; this is often referred to as 'fire borrowing.' Congress also may provide additional funds for suppression activities through emergency or supplemental appropriations. Thus, for any given year, total suppression appropriations to FS or DOI may be a combination of several sources: the WFM accounts, the FLAME accounts, additional funding as needed through transfers, and/or supplemental appropriations."
CRS Report for Congress, R44966
Congressional Research Service: https://crsreports.congress.gov/