Bennet, Udall Praise Inclusion of Air Tankers in Farm Bill

Amendment Sponsored by Bennet, Udall Helps Forest Service Combat Wildfires

January 28, 2014

Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall today praised the inclusion of a provision in the Farm Bill conference report that allows the Forest Service to lease up to five new modern large air tankers to combat wildfires. The language is identical to an amendment cosponsored by Bennet and Udall during the Senate’s consideration of the Farm Bill.

“In Colorado and throughout the West, any additional tools or resources to help fight wildfires are extremely valuable. They help save property and lives,” Bennet said. “The past two wildfire seasons have made it clear that we must be prepared to act swiftly and comprehensively to prevent widespread destruction. This provision gives the Forest Service the capability to deploy new air tankers to more effectively combat catastrophic wildfires.”

“Coloradans understand that modern mega-fires threaten entire communities and our precious water supplies. I am proud we were able to secure additional air tankers for our brave fire fighters on top of the next-generation tankers I helped secure last year,” Udall said. “Air tankers don't extinguish wildfires alone, but with these new resources, Colorado will be better prepared to quickly contain the blazes that threaten our homes and businesses.”

Bennet and Udall have worked tirelessly to support policies that will help improve forest health and prevent and fight wildfires. Both senators have called on Congress and the administration to make federal resources available to update the air tanker fleet.

The senators also led Colorado’s Congressional delegation in successfully urging President Obama to designate the Black Forest and Royal Gorge Fires as major disaster areas and pushing the SBA to quickly approve a disaster declaration for the West Fork Fire Complex. They were also instrumental in securing Emergency Watershed Protection funds for areas affected by the High Park and Waldo Canyon fires in 2012.

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