Report outlines recommendations to prevent, mitigate, suppress, and manage wildland fires
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Mark Kelly (D-AZ), and U.S. Representative John Curtis (R-UT), today commented on the latest report released by the Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission—which Senator Romney secured in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act—outlining recommendations to prevent, mitigate, suppress, and manage wildland fires. The report—which contains 148 specific recommendations over 340 pages—outlines the urgent need for an expanded workforce to mitigate wildland fires, the importance of beneficial fires—like prescribed and cultural burning—and the need for increased investment in proactive pre-fire and post-fire planning and mitigation. The Commission’s last report, which was released in February, outlined a strategy to meet aerial firefighting equipment needs through 2030.
“The bipartisan infrastructure law made it possible to bring together some of our nation’s top experts, including state and local stakeholders—like Utah’s own Kathy Holder and Bill Cox—to help us better improve strategies to prevent future wildfires from becoming catastrophic disasters in Utah and across the West,” Senator Romney said. “The latest findings released by the Commission provide useful recommendations which we can use to prevent, manage, suppress, and recover from wildfires. I look forward to reviewing these recommendations and working with Senator Kelly, Representative Curtis, and our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support efforts that efficiently manage wildfires, enable responsible prescribed burning, and implement additional science and technology resources in our wildfire risk reduction and response.”
“Year after year, wildfires and the floods that follow threaten Arizona communities, homes, and businesses. We can’t keep doing the same things and expect different results. This commission brings together experts and local voices with the goal of modernizing and improving how we prevent, fight, and recover from wildfires. We will work quickly to review and act on these recommendations to more effectively manage our forests and protect against the threat of wildfires,” said Senator Kelly.
“Utah, like much of the West, has experienced devastating wildfires in recent years,” said Representative Curtis. “Recognizing this, I was proud to work with a bipartisan group of members to bring together experts to inform Congress and land managers on best practices. With the report now out, I look forward to working to review their recommendations and stop the devastation and destruction that wildfires leave in their wake.”
Key findings and recommendations outlined in the report:
- Foster collaboration between federal, state, and local entities to successfully meet the challenge of wildfire mitigation and management.
- Continue robust investment in pre-fire and post-fire planning.
- Expand beneficial fire—such as prescribed and cultural burning—that is balanced with the public health threats associated with smoke and reduced air quality.
- Support and expand a workforce that is tailored to mitigation, planning, and post-fire response and recovery and improving strategies to recruit and retain that workforce.
- Promote federal coordination and integration of fire-related science, data, and technology.
- Increased funding to meet the escalating crisis, with a focus on mitigation to reduce costs in the long run.
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 Representative 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.