Romney, Bennet, Curtis, Garamendi Reintroduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Emergency Wildfire Cleanup Bill

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) with Congressmen John Curtis (R-UT) and John Garamendi (D-CA) today introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Making Access to Cleanup Happen (MATCH) Act, legislation to expedite disaster cleanup, save taxpayers money, and prevent further disasters. The MATCH Act was first introduced last Congress.

“After seeing the many bureaucratic hurdles communities in Utah and Duchesne counties faced after the wildfires of 2018, Congressman Curtis and I saw a need to streamline the mitigation process,” Senator Romney said. “With more than 126 wildfires burning more than 6,200 acres of land, Utah’s 2021 fire season has already surpassed the five-year average for this time of year. We are proud to continue advocating for leaders in our state by reintroducing this legislation, which would cut through the red tape that local communities face in the aftermath of wildfires to make it easier for them to recover.”

“Last year, Colorado faced the three largest wildfires in our history. When communities in Colorado and across the West are knocked off their feet by devastating wildfires, they need a steadfast partner in Washington,” Senator Bennet said. “The Emergency Watershed Protection Program is an essential resource for post-fire recovery, but often Coloradans face challenges with local match requirements and delays in project approval. The bipartisan MATCH Act would remove hurdles to securing funding and help communities act quickly to mitigate damage and protect their watersheds and infrastructure.”

“As Utahns know, the impacts of a wildfire do not end when the fire is put out. Without quick action to rehabilitate and restore the land, it is left open to additional damage,” Congressman Curtis said. “While federal cleanup programs have been a significant recovery tool, administrative delays and backlogs too often lead to extra work and unnecessary cost overruns. Communities need the flexibility to begin cleanup activities as soon as possible. To that end, I am proud to introduce the MATCH Act which will allow communities to begin certain rehabilitation activities immediately following a disaster while saving local funds and taxpayer dollars.”

“California is experiencing historically devastating wildfires with regularity and a year-long wildfire season. We must take forward-thinking steps to recover from wildfires as quickly as possible to support our communities. The MATCH Act takes critical steps to prioritize wildfire prevention and recovery, and I am proud to support this legislation,” Congressman Garamendi said.

Statements of Support:

“Thanks to the ongoing efforts of Sen. Romney and Rep. Curtis, Utah communities affected by wildfires will get the vital resources they need to recover and rebuild quickly. We thank them for this legislation and, as a former mayor, city councilman and county commissioner, for keeping the needs of locals in mind.”
– Governor Spencer Cox

MATCH Act will eliminate the crippling delay we encountered after the Bald Mountain Fire. Had this been in place during last year’s fire season, we would be better equipped to handle the threats we will face this summer from wildfires. We appreciate Senator Romney and Congressman Curtis for hearing our concern and doing something about it.” – Ty Ellis, Mayor, Elk Ridge

“I appreciate the efforts of Congressman Curtis and Senator Romney in helping local communities recover from the aftermath of a natural disaster. The
MATCH Act will greatly assist the city of Woodland Hills in our post-fire mitigation efforts as we prepare for potential flooding, debris flow, and mudslides after the devastating Bald Mt/Pole Creek fires of 2018.” – Kari Malkovich, Woodland Hills City Council Member

“The city council and I greatly appreciate the efforts of Representative Curtis and Senator Romney in sponsoring the
MATCH Act. For communities like ours that are vulnerable to the devastation of wildfires, this provides an opportunity to take additional preventative measures, and would speed up the recovery process if a wildfire should occur.” – Troy Walker, Mayor, Draper City

The MATCH Act will:

  • Direct the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to develop a list of watershed rehabilitation activities for potential Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program sponsors to carry out prior to project approval.
  • Direct the NRCS to establish a procedure for potential EWP sponsors to consult with state NRCS offices about additional pre-approval watershed rehabilitation work.
  • Ensure that those activities count towards the program’s required 25% sponsor match.