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Concern Over Forest Service Cuts As Wildfires Rage

TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - The Texas Forest Service relies on volunteer fire departments to protect rural areas. After dealing with severe budget cuts, some are worried the agency might not be as effective as firefighters battle the worst wildfires in state history.

A $23 million fund used for grants to purchase new equipment has been slashed to $7 million. But Texas Forest Service finance director Robby DeWitt said the impact isn't immediate.

"This reduction is not gonna effect and is not affecting how we're fighting fires for the current fire season," he said.

DeWitt said the agency would now defer grants for truck purchases and concentrate on other important areas.

"The agency is going to focus its efforts on providing funding for firefighter safety, which would include firefighter training and firefighter personal protective equipment," DeWitt said.

Financing isn't at a standstill at the agency that has also awarded $150 million in grants. DeWitt said, "Every volunteer fire department, that had put in a request, has received funding to help purchase a fire truck."

If there is an unexpected emergency DeWitt said the federal government provides grants for surplus trucks when needed.


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