Senate passes budget amendment that prioritizes spending for wildfire resources
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — A budget amendment that would prioritize funds for fighting wildfires passed the Senate this weekend by voice vote without objection, according to a statement from Sen. Mark Udall’s office.
Udall (D-CO) said the amendment will increase the funding availability for fighting wildfires and modernizing the air tanker fleet by $100 million — critical funds that will help prevent fires from growing and threatening lives and homes in the West.
The amendment was offered by Udall and Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), who both serve on the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The lawmakers said their deficit-neutral and bipartisan amendment underscores the importance of ensuring that the U.S. Forest Service is prepared to fight wildfires, especially during the ongoing drought and continued threat of bark beetle.
“We need to reduce the federal budget deficit, but not investing in firefighting efforts and mitigation will levy an unacceptably steep and entirely avoidable cost upon Colorado and the West,” Udall said before the amendment passed. “Effectively fighting and containing wildfires before they become mega-fires is critical to protecting lives, homes, businesses and our most precious resource: water. The recent mega-fires we have seen in Colorado are harbingers of what’s to come if we do not prioritize firefighting resources.”
“Wyoming and other Western communities continue to be threatened by wildfires stemming from excessive fuel loads and beetle killed timber. It’s crucial that we have the necessary resources available to contain them,” Barrasso said. “Our amendment would ensure that firefighting resources are given top priority. This will help give Federal land agencies the tools they need to save lives, homes, and property across the country.”