A bill to increase funding to fight wildfires and forest pests unanimously passed the Senate Tuesday and received a favorable report in the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee Wednesday.
SB 231 by Sen. Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro, would increase the annual appropriation for the Emergency Forest Fire, Insect and Disease Fund from $180,000 to $250,000 and increase the cap for the fund from $1 million to $2 million.
The companion bill, HB 297 by Rep. Kyle South, R-Fayette, also passed the House committee Wednesday. Rep. South was successful in getting the Senate version on the House Special Order Calendar for a final vote Tuesday.
The Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC) estimates wildfires in fall 2016 cost the state an additional $1.5 million in man-hours and equipment costs. Last year, AFC reported more than 2,000 locations around the state with pine beetle damage, up from 700 the previous year. (Federation Supports)