Wildfires take a toll on farmland in the western Corn Belt
Wildfires are taking a toll on the western Corn Belt. This month alone, more than 140,000 acres of farmland have been burned. The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency says fires have been reported in more than 15 counties. Two of the largest fires merged together and consumed almost 80,000 acres. A small fire in northwest Nebraska burned a dairy farm, killing 100 calves and destroying 900 calf hutches and a hay barn. The state is still at risk for more wildfires in the coming weeks.
In response, the U.S. Forest Service is asking Congress for about a billion dollars more than last year’s funding to help end the wildfire crisis. The service wants to hire 11,000 more workers to help.
The Forest Service Chief told a House Appropriations Subcommittee what is at stake if they fail to address the crisis.
“We know what’s at stake if we don’t address the wildfire crisis. The health of our communities, clean water, the camping trips, the wood product, jobs that Americans depend on for the National Forest and Grasslands to provide. The risk of facing these lands is so significant and growing. That’s why we need to act now. We need to act together and act with dedication to meet the challenges before us with sound science as our guide.”
This year’s fire season started earlier than any previous year noted on record. The Plains are being hit especially hard.