May 24, 2022

Neguse and Curtis Lead Bipartisan Wildfire Caucus in Advocating for Robust Federal Wildfire Investments

Washington, D.C.— Congressman Joe Neguse (D-CO) and Congressman John Curtis (R-UT), co-chairs of the Bipartisan Wildfire Caucus, led a letter to the Interior and Environment Subcommittee requesting robust funding for programs that support wildfire funding and preparedness.

This letter specifically requests robust funding for programs that help address the many wildfire preparedness, response, and recovery challenges facing the nation. This includes the urgent need to increase the pace and scale of hazardous fuels management and forest restoration; improve ecosystem health; reduce the risk of severe flooding and erosion in forests after fire; protect critical watersheds, and bolster support for the wildland firefighting workforce.

“In Colorado, and across the West, our communities are facing unprecedented devastation from more frequent and more intense wildfires— and we ought to be doing everything in our power here in Washington to support wildfire prevention, suppression, mitigation, and resiliency,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “As we continue to experience record-setting and dangerous fires across the United States, it only underscores our need for a comprehensive approach, and ensuring that we are working collaboratively on solutions to suppress these fires and equip our communities in their wake. The message from our communities, firefighters and scientists is clear — they need Congress to act. It’s time to deliver.”

“Wildfires do not care about congressional district lines or political affiliations, which is why this issue impacts people of all backgrounds across the West,” said Congressman John Curtis. “I am proud to be working with Rep. Neguse and our other colleagues to advocate for adequate spending on wildfire relief, suppression, and mitigation efforts that support our local communities and firefighting workforce.”

The letter was signed by Rep. Joe Neguse (CO-2), John Curtis (UT-3), Cliff Bentz (OR-2), Earl Blumenauer (OR-3), Jason Crow (CO-6), Peter DeFazio (OR-4), Doug LaMalfa (CA-1), Blake Moore (UT-1), Tom O'Halleran (AZ-1), Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Scott H. Peters (CA-52) and Kim Schrier, M.D. (WA-8).  

A full version of this letter is available HERE and below: 

April 29, 2022

The Honorable Chellie Pingree

Chair

Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies

Committee on Appropriations

Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Dave Joyce

Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies

Committee on Appropriations

Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chair Pingree and Ranking Member Joyce:

We write to ask that you provide robust funding to programs in the Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill that will support improved wildfire preparedness, mitigation, and response across the United States. 

We are no longer seeing fire seasons, but instead fire years—continuing to have record-setting and dangerous fires across the United States year after year. The National Interagency Fire Center reported that U.S. wildfires burned 7.125 million acres in 2021. In 2020, wildfires burned 10.12 million acres—the highest yearly total since accurate records began in 1983. Colorado experienced the most destructive wildfire in the state’s history in December 2021—which wasalso the most destructive fire of the year—and fires in California accounted for the largest number of structures lost in one state with 2,031 residences and even more commercial and other structures burned. Fire damage does not end when the fire is over, for example communities in Utah are still dealing with the consequences of the disastrous fires in 2018 in addition to new fires every year. Because of the damage these catastrophic wildfires leave in their wake, recovery programs are critical to our communities.  

According to research from Stanford University1, the indirect death toll due to inhalation of wildfire smoke is estimated to be in the thousands. Authors of the study estimate that wildfire smoke likely is responsible for 5,000 to 15,000 deaths in an average year in the U.S.

We encourage the committee to consider both the short- and long-term causes of wildfire and to fund programs that support forest health – including investments in research being done at federal laboratories and research institutions across the country to ensure that the best available science is used in wildfire mitigation, response, and recovery, is a priority.

Thank you for your consideration of our request.

Sincerely,

1 https://siepr.stanford.edu/research/publications/managing-growing-cost-wildfire

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