The latest draft of a federal appropriations bill “will catalyze” the U.S. Forest Service to issue its findings on whether to lift a ban on nighttime water-dropping flights to combat wildfires, according to a recent announcement by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank).
Schiff, whose district includes large swaths of land scorched by the 2009 Station fire that critics say could have been more quickly contained with nighttime air attacks, has been taking the Forest Service to task for its prolonged review of the ban.
Contending the agency has consistently missed internal deadlines to deliver its findings, Schiff said in a statement that he secured language last week in the latest markup of the Department of the Interior appropriations bill that calls on the Forest Service to complete the night-flying operation studies within 90 days of the spending plan being approved.
“With another fire season upon us, the Forest Service's lack of action is beyond negligence,” Schiff said. “The agency must conclude their analyses of whether and how to develop its own night-flying capability public immediately.”