Bennet: New Air Tankers Crucial to Fighting Wildfires

Bennet Secured Provision in Farm Bill Authorizing New Air Tankers

Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today welcomed the announcement from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that the U.S. Forest Service is in the final stages of procuring four additional air tankers to aid wildfire suppression efforts. The additional tankers will bring the fleet up to 21 large air tankers available.

Bennet, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, helped secure a provision in the Farm Bill authorizing the Forest Service to lease up to five new air tankers. Bennet also worked to ensure the provision remained in the Farm Bill as a member of the Conference Committee that finalized the bill.

“Parts of Colorado continue to experience severe drought conditions, and with the weather warming up, the potential for wildfires grows every day,” Bennet said. “These new tankers will be crucial to fighting wildfires and protecting our communities, critical infrastructure, and natural resources.”

Bennet has worked tirelessly to support policies that will help improve forest health and prevent and fight wildfires, including a call on Congress and the administration to make federal resources available to update the air tanker fleet.

Bennet’s work as a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee was instrumental in including the National Forest Insect and Disease Treatment Act in the Farm Bill.  He also secured several other provisions designed to reduce the risk of wildfire into the Farm Bill, including the permanent reauthorization of stewardship contracting and the nationwide expansion of “good neighbor” authority.

Bennet has long advocated for a smarter approach to handling wildfires that invests more in mitigation work to reduce the future costs associated with suppression efforts. He chaired a subcommittee hearing last November entitled “Shortchanging Our Forests: How Tight Budgets and Management Decisions Can Increase the Risk of Wildfire” to discuss the issue further.