Regional Public Journalism
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Cantwell Decries Cuts To Federal Wildfire Research

In Seattle, there’s a national fire research lab where scientists have been working on a new computer model to better aid land managers as they predict how fires will behave and where smoke will go. But now that federal work’s been halted.

In its 2019 budget proposal, the Trump Administration cut much of the funding for the Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Lab.

Washington Senator Maria Cantwell is calling for that money to be reinstated.

"We know the weather is drier, we’re seeing more fire starts, we’re seeing more homes destroyed," Cantwell told the interim head of the U.S. Forest Service during a hearing this week before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. "We want to make sure that you understand that now is not the time to cut research."

Predicting how fires and smoke move over the landscape helps managers set prescribed burns or fight wildfire.

The Seattle lab’s computer model would cost $20 million.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.