Re "National Park Service should have separate account to fight wildfires" (Viewpoints, Sept. 2): In response to the article by Ron Sundergill, it should be clarified that the National Park Service already receives almost all of its wildfire funds from a separate Department of Interior account. Consequently, when these funds are exhausted, the secretary of the interior may use funds from various bureaus within the department to make up the shortfall. NPS construction funds are generally tapped because they are sometimes available late in the fiscal year, perhaps due to delays in project implementation.
Additionally, one reason for making bureaus absorb wildfire costs within their budgets was to encourage managers to control such costs. It may be that one reason the proposal to shift costs to a Federal Emergency Management Agency account has not been approved is the concern that managers will treat it as an open checkbook. The question is whether or not safeguards will be in place to prevent this.
-- Tom Nichols; Eagle, Idaho