I got an e-mail this morning from Jim Duffy. He’s the chief of staff over at County Supervisor Ron Roberts’ office.

Duffy sent over a copy of a white paper prepared by a Los Angeles-based nonprofit called the Wildfire Research Network, which will make a presentation to the County Board of Supervisors tomorrow when it votes on a plan to lease three firefighting planes during San Diego’s hottest, driest months.

The paper is very supportive about the proposal. It states that the plan is:

a very good cost-effective option that will give San Diego self-sufficiency for a much wider range of serious fires and limit more of the losses that accompany the most aggressive fires

I’ve heard quite a bit about the Wildfire Research Network, and I’ve been trying to find out who they are and, more importantly, where they get their funding.

The companies and governments that lease and sell these planes stand to make millions and millions of dollars from convincing governments that their products are the best, so I thought it was pretty vital to check that the WRN isn’t receiving any funding from those companies.

Well, I just spoke with Tony Morris, one of two principals of WRN. He said the nonprofit doesn’t receive any funding from any of the companies interested in leasing or selling the firefighting planes. Morris said he gets most of his funding from individuals and small companies.

“I don’t get paid for what I do,” he said.

I checked with Guidestar.org, a website that provides information about nonprofit organizations and I couldn’t find a Form 990, the form nonprofits have to fill in for tax purposes.

Morris told me his nonprofit doesn’t have to fill in the form because it hasn’t raised more than $25,000 annually in recent years.

Morris said he’ll be getting up at 5 a.m. tomorrow to come down to San Diego and present to the Board of Supervisors.


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