Last week U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., heralded the introduction of legislation in the House of Representatives that mirrors his plan, which would allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to work with local governments on wildfire mitigation projects.
Udall, who serves on the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has worked to protect Colorado communities from the threat of modern mega fires, according to a news release from Udall’s office. With companion legislation now in the House, Udall said this important milestone demonstrates the growing, bipartisan support for his common-sense and fiscally responsible idea.
“Colorado communities and firefighters across the west understand that the cheapest fire to fight is one that never burns,” Udall said in the release. “The mitigation projects this legislation will support will put Colorado communities and public lands managers on the offense, heading off mega-fires before they even start.”
Udall’s bill and its House companion would place wildfires on par with other natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods and tornadoes. Colorado and other states would be eligible to receive an additional 15 percent of the total funds FEMA allocates for fire suppression to support wildfire-mitigation efforts.
“And this is more than just a good idea, it’s the fiscally responsible approach to dealing with the threat of wildfire,” Udall said in the release. “Studies show that every dollar spent on hazard mitigation saves an average of four dollars in costs down the line. I am proud that my common-sense and fiscally responsible plan has the support of Republicans and Democrats alike in the House.”
The House bill’s co-sponsors include Congressman Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, who also has worked to strengthen wildfire protections for Colorado communities, the release stated.
“For too long we have been working to combat wildfires once they start instead of proactively addressing the conditions that cause them,” Tipton said in the release. “As the old saying goes, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,’ and that is especially true when it comes to forests management.
“By making FEMA resources available for hazard mitigation in our forests, this bipartisan legislation will help take a more proactive approach to restoring forests to a healthy natural state, reducing the risk of wildfire, and doing so without increasing taxpayer spending.”