We oversee the preparation and execution of a department-wide, annual wildland fire management budget to promote efficiency and ensure alignment with goals set by Congress and the executive branch.
A single engine air tanker drops red-colored retardant on a wildfire. Airtankers help firefighters on the ground by dropping water or retardant to reduce fire spread. (©Kari Greer/USDA Forest Service)
$1.94 billion: 2024 Wildland Fire Management Budget ( requested)*^
$1.77 billion: 2023 Wildland Fire Management Budget (appropriated)*^
$1.53 billion: 2022 Wildland Fire Management Budget (appropriated)*^~
$993 million: 2021 Wildland Fire Management Budget (appropriated)*
$952 million: 2020 Wildland Fire Management Budget (appropriated)*
* Includes funding available through the Wildfire Suppression Operations Reserve Fund, which makes additional funding for emergency wildfire response and suppression available when regular funding is not sufficient for the need.
^ Includes funding provided through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
~ Includes funding provided through the Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2022.
Funding for all wildland fire-related activities on land administered by the Department of the Interior flows through a single pot of money, called an appropriation, managed by the Office of Wildland Fire. Working alongside staff from each of Interior’s bureaus with wildland fire management programs (Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), our team leads the process of creating and administering the annual budget describing how that pot of money will be spent. While Congress begins the budget planning process a year before the budget goes into effect, our budget team’s work spans the course of at least three years. During this process, the budget team coordinates with Interior bureaus to strategically plan, create, justify, and execute Interior’s wildland fire management budget. This also involves monitoring and reporting how funds are used.
The annual wildland fire appropriation is one part of the overall federal budget; learn more about the federal government budget process.
An illustration showing how Congress appropriates money for federal wildland fire management. Congress appropriates funding to the Interior and Agriculture Departments for federal wildland fire management, and then Interior allocates funding to its bureaus. The bureaus allocate funds to their respective regions and state offices, where funds are further allocated to the field unit level.
The Department of the Interior organizes wildland fire management activities into a suite of programs. These include preparedness, suppression, fuels management, facilities, burned area rehabilitation, and science. Once Congress approves a budget, the Office of Wildland Fire coordinates funding distribution to the four bureaus with wildland fire management responsibilities. The bureaus use this funding to carry out wildland fire management work, which follows approved operating plans.
Wildland fire may ignore administrative boundaries, but we can’t. The land management bureaus within the Department of the Interior have diverse missions that require different wildland fire management strategies and tactics. We can sell timber from land managed by the Bureau of Land Management, but not from national parks. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has an obligation to enhance and protect habitat for plants and wildlife, while the Bureau of Indian Affairs works to enhance and protect opportunities for American Indians, Indian tribes, and Alaska Natives.
A centralized budget helps us honor the bureaus’ individual missions while we all work toward common wildland fire management goals for America’s public lands. It also makes the wildland fire program more efficient, cohesive, and provides greater accountability to leadership, Congress, and the executive branch.