October 26, 2021

Neguse Bill to Support Wildfire Recovery Efforts to Be Marked Up In Committee

Washington D.C.— On Wednesday October 27th at 10:00am ET/8:00am MT, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure will markup bipartisan legislation from Congressman Joe Neguse to support wildfire recovery efforts in Colorado and across the nation. 

The legislation was introduced earlier this year by Congressman Neguse and Congressman John Curtis of Utah who Co-Chair the newly-formed Bipartisan Wildfire Caucus. The Wildfire Recovery Act would increase flexibility in the federal cost share for Fire Management Assistance Grants (FMAG) to bring in additional resources for communities as they rebuild from wildfire damage. 

“In the wake of the Cameron Peak, East Troublesome and Calwood fires in our district, our local communities are still working to rebuild and recover. It’s critical that the federal government has the flexibility to fully support this wildfire recovery work and that we are not asking our cities and counties to pick up so much of the bill.” said Rep. Joe Neguse, Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Wildfire Caucus. “The bipartisan Wildfire Recovery Act will bring additional resources to our communities to support fire management and mitigation. I’m thrilled this widely-supported legislation will be marked up in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and look forward to bringing it to the House floor for a vote.”

“As Utahns know, wildfires leave devastating damage in their wake and the sooner restoration and recovery can begin, the better,” said Rep. Curtis. “I am pleased to see the Wildfire Recovery Act advanced through Committee and am hopeful we will soon hold a vote on the Floor. Our bipartisan bill will help our communities during their greatest time of need.”

The bill is also cosponsored by Representatives Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), Chris Steward (R-UT), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Michael San Nicholas (D-GU), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Greg Stanton (D-AZ), Michael Simpson (R-ID), John Garamendi (D-CA), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Steven Horsford (D-NV), Kim Schrier (D-WA), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Karen Bass (D-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Mariyln Strickland (D-WA), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Pete Aguilar (D-CA), Kaiali’i Kahele (D-HI), and Melanie Stansbury (D-NM). 

Representatives Neguse and Curtis have worked together throughout the 116th Congress to address wildfires in the West. In 2019, together they introduced the Study on Improving Lands (SOIL) Act which evaluates the effects of wildfire and land use practices on the ability of soil to sequester carbon. Last April, they introduced the Wildfire and Community Health Response Act of 2020 aimed at supporting the health of firefighters and mitigating the impact of wildfires on vulnerable communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bipartisan Wildfire Caucus, launched earlier this year seeks to elevate bipartisan science-driven solutions for tackling western wildfires. 

Background

As Colorado experienced a devastating and relentless wildfire season in 2020, Congressman Neguse has worked in close coordination with local firefighters and emergency management officials to ensure that communities in the 2nd Congressional District have the federal funds they need to contain these fires and recover. Congressman Neguse helped secure FEMA funds for containment efforts of the CalWood, East Troublesome and Cameron Peak Fires. Congressman Neguse helped secure a disaster declaration designation for Colorado’s wildfires to bring in more resources for the state, already the Small Business Administration has announced support for businesses in Grand and Larimer County due to the designation

Congressman Neguse has also advocated for better pay, benefits and safety measures to support Colorado firefighters. Last week he introduced the Tim Hart Wildland Classification and Pay Parity Act to raise pay for wildland firefighters, provide essential benefits and address classification.

Over a year ago, Congressman Neguse introduced the 21st Century Conservation Corps in the House, alongside Senator Ron Wyden, which would make major investments in wildfire resiliency and mitigation efforts, as well as major investments in conservation and forest restoration. 

Support for the Wildfire Recovery Act

“I’ve seen firsthand how devastating wildfires can be to communities, businesses, and families. Rep. Neguse continues to fight for Colorado and I was proud he joined me when we met with victims and families devastated by Colorado’s climate and drought-induced wildfires,” said Governor Jared Polis. “This legislation would drastically improve the ability of state and local governments to respond to these disasters and speed up the recovery process.”

“Climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of extreme wildfires in our community and countless others,” said Deb Gardner, Chair of the Boulder County Board of County Commissioners. “Recovering from these events is costly, and the federal government is an essential partner in that process. This legislation will give FEMA the flexibility to provide communities that have been especially hard-hit with the resources they need to fully recover.”

“This bill would greatly assist local governments that experience catastrophic wildfires by better aligning the FMAG program with other FEMA assistance programs, and by supporting small communities with limited resources,” said Lori Hodges, Director of the Office of Emergency Management for Larimer County. 

“This bill is exactly what Grand County needs. Rural Colorado Counties with relatively large scale disasters cannot afford the old 25% cost share. Grand County lost over 500 structures.  Debris removal alone may cost over $20 Million.  25% of $20 million is $5 million.  Grand County's total annual budget is less than $50 Million, and our budget is tight. ” said Richard Cimino, Grand County Commissioner. “Joe Neguse's bill will make it possible for rural Colorado Counties to help their citizens recover from natural disasters.”