Haaland and Moore Announced Over $33 Million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for Colorado to Prevent, Mitigate Wildfires
Bennet Brought Together USDA, USFS, and Colorado Leaders For Roundtable Discussion, Urges Sustained Federal Investment in Forests and Watersheds
Denver – Today, Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper and Colorado U.S. Representative Joe Neguse joined U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Deb Haaland and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Chief Randy Moore in Boulder County as they announced over $33 million in funding from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to help Colorado prevent and mitigate wildfires.
Bennet also held a roundtable discussion with Colorado leaders and Chief Moore, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Meryl Harrell, and USDA Senior Advisor for Climate Sean Babington to discuss the collaborative mitigation and recovery efforts taking place in Colorado and how the federal government can be a more effective partner to local communities to support healthy forests and watersheds. As the threat of catastrophic wildfires grows, Bennet continues to urge the Biden Administration to build on its investments to support Colorado communities on the front lines of wildfire risk.
“I’m deeply grateful for Secretary Haaland and Chief Moore’s visit to Colorado as we work to address the growing threat of wildfires across the West and build resilience in our communities,” said Bennet. “While the funding announced today from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is an important next step, there’s more we need to do to support our communities and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire. As climate change fuels more extreme and frequent disasters, I’m urging the Biden Administration to make a sustained, long-term investment in our forests and watersheds to ensure Colorado and the Rocky Mountain West have adequate resources to prevent these megafires that are destroying our landscapes.”
“Climate change has made wildfires a year-round threat and we must prepare for it ,” said Hickenlooper. “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill funding announced today is a first step toward building more resilient communities as we confront this new reality.”
“We’re thrilled to see federal funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law flowing to our communities to support wildfire suppression and mitigation,” said Neguse. “For communities in the 2nd district, from the Front Range to the Continental Divide we have been deeply impacted by unprecedented wildfires in particular over the last 18 months as countless destructive and historic wildfires have ripped through our communities. Comprehensive firefighting resources and investments in forest restoration and wildfire resilience are critical and something we continue to advocate for to protect our communities. I was grateful to host Secretary Deb Haaland and Forest Chief Randy Moore in Colorado today, and for their continued partnership as we work to conquer the consequential threat of western wildfires.”
During the roundtable discussion, Bennet discussed his bipartisan, bicameral Outdoor Restoration Partnership Act (ORPA) to make a historic investment in America’s forests and watersheds while creating millions of jobs in Colorado and across the West. This legislation will provide direct support to local, collaborative efforts to restore habitat, expand outdoor access, and mitigate wildfire. In August 2021, Bennet held an “Outdoor Restoration Partnership Act” Tour with stops in Denver, Clear Creek, Grand, and Routt counties to highlight the importance of forest and watershed health to economies throughout Colorado.
“Thanks to the investments made in President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, USDA is taking the next step in reducing wildfire risk, especially in western states where communities, infrastructure and resources are at the most risk,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The people of Colorado need no reminding of the dire threat wildfire presents to states across the West. In 2020, Coloradans saw three of their largest fires on record. With the investments we’re announcing today, USDA will do its part to make your communities safer and our forests more resilient to our changing climate.”
“These efforts to reduce wildfire risk to communities located in these landscapes are just the beginning,” said Forest Service Chief Randy Moore. “The first-year investments are a part of a 10-year strategy to reduce the exposure of communities and infrastructure to the risk of catastrophic wildfire. With each successive year we will plan and implement more, continuing to reduce the risks associated with extreme wildfire for communities in these vulnerable areas.”
“Climate change continues to drive the devastating intersection of extreme heat, drought and wildland fire danger across the United States, creating wildfires that move with a speed and intensity previously unseen,” said Secretary Haaland. “Funding provided by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will support the Interior Department’s ongoing efforts to invest in the science and research that is needed to better understand the impacts of climate changes on wildland fire in order to better safeguard people, communities and resources. With so little room for error, we must remain steadfast in our commitment to wildland fire preparedness, mitigation and resilience.”