Senate Western Caucus Members Request Hearing On Wildfire Suppression Preparedness
Today, members of the Senate Western Caucus sent a letter to Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Bingaman and Ranking Member Murkowski to request a hearing on wildfire suppression preparedness. The Caucus members, all from western states impacted by wildfires, want to ensure federal land management agencies prepare for suppression and mitigation efforts in anticipation of this year's wildfire season.
The text of the letter follows:
July 29, 2010
Chairman Jeff Bingaman Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski
Energy and Natural Resources Committee Energy and Natural Resources Committee
304 Dirksen Senate Building 304 Dirksen Senate Building
Washington, D.C. 20510 Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Chairman Bingaman and Ranking Member Murkowski,
Every year, for the last 10 years, the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources has conducted oversight on wildfire suppression preparedness in the spring prior to the start of the fire season. As western communities brace for the summer season of wildfires, it is imperative that federal land management agencies prepare for suppression and mitigation efforts. Many communities have already been impacted by wildfires this year as the 2010 fire season has already begun, with fires currently burning in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, New Jersey, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
With above normal late season precipitation in the Rocky Mountain States, the fine, flashy fuels that normally carry wildfire are also above normal. Juxtaposed to the above normal temperatures in the southwestern U.S. and knowing that the Department of the Interior is focused on the incident in the Gulf of Mexico, it would seem that our first responders may be in short supply this fire season.
Another matter deserving of increased Committee oversight is that of restoration-based hazardous fuel reduction and thinning projects on federal lands. As you know, restoration efforts have proven highly effective in wildfire prevention and reducing suppression costs. Efforts are underway in a variety of places in the Southwest to establish market-driven landscape restoration projects which warrant Congressional attention.
We respectfully request that the Committee hold a hearing on wildfire preparedness and fuel reduction treatments at the earliest possible date.
Senator John Barrasso (R-WY)
Senator Bob Bennett (R-UT)
Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID)
Senator John Ensign (R-NV)
Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY)
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ)
Senator John McCain (R-AZ)
Senator Jim Risch (R-ID)