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Gazette Premium Content Congress studies new way to fund massive wildfires

Associated Press Updated: March 17, 2014 at 3:05 pm

BOISE, Idaho — A bipartisan effort is underway in Congress to change the way the country pays to battle its most catastrophic wildfires.

Lawmakers from Oregon and Idaho met with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Monday to discuss the budget reform.

President Barack Obama's proposed budget would prevent the diversion of money intended for forest thinning and other wildfire prevention efforts.

Historically as fire season progressed, money that had been set aside to thin forests and restore burned land was taken and used to pay for fighting the biggest blazes.

Legislation introduced in Congress would direct that when firefighting costs reach 70 percent of the 10-year average, firefighting agencies could dip into the government's fund for battling natural disasters like hurricanes.

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