LANDER — Fire season has just begun but the state has already spent $6 million in fighting flames.
Wildfire suppression on state and county land is funded several different ways, said Renny MacKay, communications director for Gov. Matt Mead.
The state has $2 million in its two-year budget for fighting such fires, MacKay said. The new fiscal biennium begins July 1. The state also has a $2.8 million budget for general operations such as fire preparedness.
The final funding mechanism comes from an emergency fire suppression account. It is a standing account that can be spent down and must be replenished by agreement from the Legislature. At the start of the 2012 fire season, the account had $9.2 million.
The governor recently put $6 million in unspent money into his office budget for fighting wildfires. The money would have reverted back to the general fund.
Wyoming’s last big fire season was in 2006, and the state spent $17 million, MacKay said.
MacKay said predicting the cost of this fire season is hard because it depends on where the fires occur.
Firefighting on federal land, including national forests, national parks and Bureau of Land Management land is paid for with federal dollars.