Flurry of Significant Reports on Fire Danger Spurs Urgent Call to Action
Following a recent wave of reports detailing increased risks to our ability to prepare for and respond to wildfires, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today called on Congress and the Administration to quickly take action to combat these increasing threats.
Bennet is calling on Congress to pass the Farm Bill, which includes forest health provisions like the National Forest Insect and Disease Treatment Act and the Permanent Stewardship Contracting Authority Act. Bennet is also urging the Forest Service and the Interior Department to follow the recent recommendations of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to work together to better determine the number and type of aircraft they need to fight wildfires. In a report published earlier this week, the GAO found the agencies’ efforts have been hampered by limited information and collaboration. Additionally, the Forest Service should devote all available resources to help respond to these fires and reduce the risk of future wildfires.
“Catastrophic wildfires have become an all too common occurrence for Colorado and states in the West,” Bennet said. “With news that the Forest Service has raised our national preparedness level to its highest point and has frozen spending to allow for an increased focus on fighting ongoing fires, we cannot wait to take these critical steps.”
On Tuesday, the U.S. Forest Service increased the National Preparedness Level from PL-4 to PL-5, indicating a high degree of wildfire activity, a major commitment of fire resources, and the probability that severe conditions will continue. This is the fifth time that PL-5 has been reached in the last ten years. The Forest Service has also moved to freeze spending within the agency in order to devote any available resources to fight wildfires.