Bennet, Romney Reintroduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Emergency Wildfire Cleanup Bill

MATCH Act Will Expedite Disaster Cleanup, Save Taxpayers Money, and Prevent Further Disasters

Washington, D.C. — Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet joined U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and U.S. Representatives John Curtis (R-Utah) and John Garamendi (D-Calif.) to reintroduce the bipartisan, bicameral Making Access to Cleanup Happen (MATCH) Act, legislation to expedite disaster cleanup, save taxpayers money, and prevent further disasters.

“Colorado has experienced some of the most catastrophic wildfires on record in just the past few years. We need more investment from the federal government and a stronger partner in Washington,” said Bennet. “The bipartisan MATCH Act will help communities recover faster from wildfires by reducing hurdles posed by local match requirements and delays in project approval. There is still a lot we need to do to address wildfires across Colorado and the American West – including by investing in forest management and wildfire prevention on the front end – but this is an important step forward.”

“In the aftermath of a wildfire, many Utah communities face delays in receiving necessary funds to begin recovery efforts in a timely manner,” said Romney. “Our legislation would help local communities cut through burdensome red tape, expediting the cleanup process and the start of restoration projects. We are proud to continue advocating for leaders in our state by reintroducing this important legislation and hope we can get it across the finish line this Congress.”

“As Utahns know, the impacts of a wildfire do not end when the fire is put out. Without quick action to rehabilitate and restore the land, it is left open to additional damage,” said Curtis. “While federal cleanup programs have been a significant recovery tool, administrative delays and backlogs too often lead to extra work and unnecessary cost overruns. Communities need the flexibility to begin cleanup activities as soon as possible. To that end, I am proud to introduce the MATCH Act which will allow communities to begin certain rehabilitation activities immediately following a disaster while saving local funds and taxpayer dollars.”

“California is experiencing historically devastating wildfires with regularity and a year-long wildfire season. We must take forward-thinking steps to recover from wildfires as quickly as possible to support our communities. The MATCH Act takes critical steps to prioritize wildfire prevention and recovery, and I am proud to support this legislation,” said Garamendi.

Specifically, the MATCH Act will:

  • Direct the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to develop a list of watershed rehabilitation activities for potential Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program sponsors to carry out prior to project approval.

  • Direct the NRCS to establish a procedure for potential EWP sponsors to consult with state NRCS offices about additional pre-approval watershed rehabilitation work.

  • Ensure that those activities count towards the program’s required 25% sponsor match.

Last month, Bennet introduced the Protect the West Act to invest $60 billion in forest management and protection. This bill would reduce wildfire risk, restore watersheds, and protect communities while creating or sustaining over two million good-paying jobs and addressing the backlog of projects across public, private, and Tribal land. 

The text of the bill is available HERE.