Texas A&M Forest Service to return $43.2 million to Texas
Texas A&M Forest Service (TFS) expects to release more than $43 million in remaining appropriated fire suppression funds back to the State of Texas this fall.
The 83rd Texas Legislature appropriated $161 million to pay wildfire suppression costs incurred during the years 2011 and 2012 – an unprecedented wildfire season with some of the largest and most destructive wildfires in state history.
The Texas A&M University System Chancellor, John Sharp applauded the efforts of TFS, “Our team understands the importance of being good stewards of all resources and particularly those of the hard-working people of this state and country. This is a great example of fiscal efficiency and effectiveness at work under the direction of our agency director, Tom Boggus.”
Of the state appropriation, a $43.2 million surplus was generated due to the agency’s dedicated efforts in working with the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to obtain all allowable reimbursements related to the two presidential disaster declarations for the 2011 wildfires.
“Our dedicated employees have been working daily with state and federal agencies and are committed to obtaining all allowable reimbursements,” said Tom Boggus, Texas State Forester and Director of Texas A&M Forest Service. “Thanks in part to their diligence, we have paid the bills in full and currently have funds to return to the state.”
The $43.2 million in FEMA reimbursements the agency has already received has been deposited in the Texas state treasury and will be officially returned to the state budget when the Texas Comptroller’s Office completes the lapsing process. In addition, $6.7 million in FEMA reimbursements is still in the process and may also be returned to the state upon TFS receiving these funds.
These returned revenues will allow the state to repurpose the funds for other Legislative priorities.
Wildfire activity in Texas has continued to increase over the past two decades with significant fire seasons occurring in 10 of the last 15 years. Since 2005, Texas has seen 149,132 wildfires that have burned nearly 9.3 million acres. Every region of the state has been affected. According to agency weather and fuel experts, the state can expect this trend to continue for a number of years to come.