April 05, 2022

Following Marshall and NCAR Fires, Neguse Chairs Hearing on Wildfire Suppression and Community Resilience

View his opening remarks HERE. 

Washington D.C. — Today, Congressman Joe Neguse, Chair of the U.S. Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands held an oversight hearing on investing in wildfire management, ecosystem restoration, and resilient communities. Specifically, the hearing examined the Biden Administration’s priorities for the implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, signed on November 15, 2021, and how its enactment addresses increasing threats. 

Following a letter sent by Neguse during the height of the historic 2020 wildfire season, President Biden took executive action to raise federal wildland firefighter pay to $15 an hour, a pay increase that was codified through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Congressman Neguse is working to enact even more support for federal wildland firefighters through Tim’s Act, comprehensive legislation to further increase pay and provide comprehensive health care, mental health and housing benefits. 

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes over $5.93 billion, for wildland fire management and resiliency. 

“In my district in Colorado communities from the Front Range to the Continental Divide have been deeply impacted by unprecedented wildfires in recent years, including the Marshall Fire in December 2021. The reality we’re living with throughout the West is that wildfires are not just contained to a season, but burn year-round in larger areas at higher intensity,” said Chairman Neguse. “The Infrastructure Law will enact a multi-layered approach to provide land management agencies with a generational opportunity to demonstrate a paradigm shift away from commercial management and emergency suppression, and towards fire adaptation and ecosystem services.” 

Both the DOI and the USFS submitted spending plans for Fiscal Year 2022 90-days after the enactment of the law. Plans include funding for the Joint Chiefs Landscape Restoration Partnership, a provision Neguse officially introduced in Congress as a part of his Joint Chiefs Landscape Restoration Partnership Act of 2021. Other priorities include wildfire risk reduction and ecosystem restoration, as well as increased support for the Forest Service Legacy Road and Trail Remediation Program and the Reforestation Trust Fund.

Witnesses included: Jeff Rupert, Director of the Office of Wildland Fire, U.S. Department of the Interior; Jaelith Hall-Rivera, Deputy Chief of the State and Private Forestry U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service; Brian Ferebee, Chief Executive of Intergovernmental Relations U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 

View the entire hearing HERE

Background:

Congressman Neguse is leading several efforts in Congress to support wildfire resilience, mitigation and recovery. As Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Wildfire Caucus, Congressman Neguse is leading the Western Wildfire Support Act to comprehensively scale-up fire suppression resources, Tim’s Act, to raise federal wildland firefighter pay, as well as the Wildfire Recovery Act and Wildfire Smoke Relief Act to support communities. Additionally,  his plan to launch a 21st Century Climate Conservation Corps has captured the imagination of the American people and would put a new generation to work in our forests working on climate resilience and forest management projects. 

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