Legislation would help with fire mitigation
Added money would help with prevention
WASHINGTON — The Wildfire Prevention Act was introduced last week in the U.S. House of Representatives in an effort to reduce wildfire risks nationally.
The legislation, co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, would elevate wildfires to the level of natural disasters under the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
If passed, the legislation means FEMA will allocate additional funds to each state for fire-suppression efforts. States will receive an additional 15 percent of the funds they already receive.
The legislation will help reform the way Colorado and other states deal with wildfires, Tipton said.
“By making FEMA resources available for hazard mitigation in our forests, this legislation will help take a more proactive approach to restoring forests to a healthy natural state, and do so without increasing taxpayer spending,” he said in a news release.
Colorado experienced 14 wildfires in June alone. These fires accounted for the loss of 180 square miles of land, The Washington Post reported.
Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo, introduced a similar bill in the Senate in July.
Udall commended the introduction of the House bill, and he agreed that proactive fire-reduction efforts before wildfires start best serves Colorado residents.
“Colorado communities and public-lands managers know that the cheapest fire to fight is one that never burns. This bipartisan, common-sense and deficit-neutral bill would allow Colorado to proactively work to prevent wildfires before they even begin,” Udall said.
Suzanne Gaber is a student at American University in Washington, D.C., and an intern for The Cortez Journal. She can be reached at email@example.com.