Mark Udall welcomed the U.S. Forest Service's announcement today that it has awarded exclusive-use contracts to two companies to provide a total of eight large air tankers to support wildfire suppression through the 2013 fire season. These contracts are different from the next-generation air tanker contracts Udall has championed for in Congress.
"Air tankers are critical firefighting resources that can save lives and prevent small blazes from becoming catastrophic wildfires," Udall said. "The Forest Service's decision to award these air tanker contracts is a step in the right direction, but I plan to keep fighting to get the U.S. Forest Service the next-generation air tankers it needs to update its Korean War-era fleet."
Udall has been a leading voice for ensuring that Colorado and the West are prepared to face the threat of wildfire, including pressing the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Air Force to quickly secure the air tanker resources needed for the 2013 wildfire season. And he urged private contractors last month to respect the U.S. Forest Service's upcoming decision to award contracts to several U.S. companies to supply next-generation air tankers.
Udall also led the fight to pass a bipartisan amendment to the U.S. Senate's 2014 budget to allocate $100 million more for wildland firefighting. He also successfully secured federal assistance to repair drinking-water supplies damaged by the Waldo Canyon and High Park fires.