Cantwell, Wyden Look To Help Prevent Catastrophic Wildfires

Late last week, Washington Senator Maria Cantwell took to the Senate Floor calling for more to be done to fight wildfires now and to prevent them into the future. First, Cantwell called on President Trump to help the U.S. reach out to the international community for additional firefighters.

“While Washington and Oregon may see eventually wetter weather in October, we still have massive fires that we are going to see in California in the month of October.  We need to get more fire fighters into the United States to help us fight this incredible attack by Mother Nature on our communities.”

It’s estimated that the U.S. need 5,000 additional firefighters to address the current blazes burning across much of the west.

In addition, Cantwell also threw her support behind Oregon Senator Ron Wyden’s efforts to change policy allowing prescribed burns to take place during different times of the year.

“That is to say, burning some of the fuel, that we think could become fire breaks and stopping fires from becoming larger and larger, and the fuel break helps create a line of defense.  We supported this legislation several years ago, unfortunately it didn’t make it in to the big fire fix bill when we stopped fire borrowing.  But none the less, it remains a big priority.”

The National Prescribed Fire Act of 2020 also:

  • Establishes $300 million accounts for both the Forest Service and the Department of the Interior (DOI) to plan, prepare, and conduct controlled burns on federal, state, and private lands.
  • Requires the Forest Service and DOI to increase the number of acres treated with controlled burns.
  • Establishes a $10 million collaborative program, based on the successful Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program, to implement controlled burns on county, state and private land at high risk of burning in a wildfire.
  • Establishes an incentive program to provide funding to state, county, and federal agencies for any large-scale controlled burn.
  • Establishes a workforce development program at the Forest Service and DOI to develop, train, and hire prescribed fire practitioners, and establishes employment programs for Tribes, veterans, women, and those formerly incarcerated.
  • Requires state air quality agencies to use current laws and regulations to allow larger controlled burns, and give states more flexibility in winter months to conduct controlled burns that reduce catastrophic smoke events in the summer.

Click Here for more on the National Prescribed Fire Act of 2020.

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