Bennet, Colleagues Sound Alarm: Trump Shutdown Threatens Wildfire Preparedness

Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, with 11 Democratic colleagues, pressed for an end to the shutdown that President Trump and congressional Republicans have inflicted on the nation, sounding the alarm about growing impacts on wildfire preparedness as the shutdown drags on.

“We write to urge you to cease the ongoing government shutdown and allow our nation’s forestry professionals and firefighters to continue forest restoration work and training certifications in advance of the coming fire season,” the senators wrote. “The failure to reopen the government puts peoples’ lives at risk by undermining their ability to respond to wildfires and will only serve to delay critical forest restoration and safety projects.”

Typically, federal agencies use the winter months to hire and train firefighters in advance of the upcoming fire season, and to perform fire prevention work—such as tree removal and controlled burns—that is more difficult or dangerous to carry out during active fire seasons. Training and prevention programs are both currently on hold. Every day that the shutdown continues, the more the fire risk for the 2019 season grows.

“Unless these firefighter trainings and forest health projects resume soon, the health and safety of our communities mostly in rural areas will be put at risk during this government shutdown. We strongly urge you to agree to reopen the government,” the senators concluded.

The letter to President Trump was also signed by U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tom Udall (D-NM), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV).

The letter is available HERE.