Romney applauds the selection of two Utahns to serve on Commission to recommend strategies to tackle national wildfire crisis
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) welcomed an announcement made by the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the selection of members to serve on the Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission, which Romney negotiated and secured in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Modeled after Romney’s Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission Act, the wildland fire commission is tasked with forming federal policy recommendations and strategies on ways to better prevent, manage, suppress and recover from wildfires.
“We cannot continue to fight the wildfires of the present and future with fire policies of the past. Nearly all of my home state of Utah is facing extreme drought—and this is a problem plaguing the entire American West and the driving factor of historic wildfires,” said Senator Romney. “This is why I worked to make sure legislation to create a commission which would improve strategies to prevent future wildfires from becoming catastrophic disasters in Utah and across the West was included in the bipartisan infrastructure bill. I look forward to seeing the wildland fire commission start its efforts by bringing together some of our nation’s top experts, including state and local stakeholders.
“Kathy Holder, who currently serves as Utah’s State Hazard Mitigation Officer, as well as the Mitigation and Recovery Section Manager for the Utah Division of Emergency Management, has the experience needed for this Commission. With an additional 14 years of experience in emergency management, and expertise in disaster recovery, she will ensure the specific needs of Utah communities will be brought to the table.
“The selection of Bill Cox, a rancher and County Commissioner for Rich County, as an alternate for local representation was also a tremendous decision. His background as a wildland firefighter for 20 years, decades of local leadership, and efforts to assist the state on wildland and urban interface projects will bring invaluable experience and knowledge to the Commission.”
Negotiated by Senator Romney and his colleagues, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a once-in-a-generation investment which will address decades of neglect of our nation’s hard, physical infrastructure. In addition to establishing the commission, the legislation provides historic funding to address wildfire hazards, including $8.25 billion for a suite of programs aimed at reducing wildfire risks, detecting wildfires, instituting firefighter workforce reforms, and building more resilient infrastructure. More details on how the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will deliver for Utah—including by rebuilding its roads, mitigating drought conditions, and fulfilling critical water needs can be found here.
Senator Romney, along with Rep. John Curtis (R-UT) and Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) first introduced the Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission Act—bipartisan and bicameral legislation to establish a commission of federal and non-federal stakeholders to study and recommend fire prevention, mitigation, management, and rehabilitation policies for forests and grasslands
In the summer of 2021. The legislation was later included in the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
During the 2021 fire season, Utah saw more than 1,130 wildfires burn nearly 64,000 acres of land. Nationally, nearly 59,000 wildfires burned more than 7.1 million acres. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, most counties in the state of Utah face “extreme” or “exceptional” droughts, while the remaining counties fall into the “severe” category—which only exacerbates the devastating wildfires and further stresses the State’s natural resources.