Texas plans to cut budget of agency battling fires | Reuters
(Reuters) - Texas lawmakers are set to slash funding for the agency responsible for fighting wildfires in the midst of a historic wildfire season in which some 2.5 million acres have burned.
The Texas Forest Service faces almost $34 million in budget cuts over the next two years, roughly a third of the agency's total budget. The cuts are in both the House and Senate versions of the proposed state budget.
The Forest Service has about 200 firefighters and offers assistance grants to volunteer fire departments. Assistance grants are likely to take the biggest hit.
Volunteers -- two of whom were killed in fighting this year's fires -- make up nearly 80 percent of the state's fire-fighting force and are first responders to roughly 90 percent of wildfires in Texas.
"Volunteer programs are our No. 1 defense," Forest Service Director Tom Boggus told Reuters.