Dear President Biden:
Thank you for the increased attention your Administration has provided to address the wildfires western states have faced in recent years. As Representatives of communities impacted by wildfires, we are writing to urge you to respectfully consider additional steps to mitigate the potential for another catastrophic fire season.
The consequences these wildfires have dealt our communities over the last several years are like nothing we have ever seen. The threat of future wildfires is an ongoing national emergency with far-reaching implications.
The recently enacted Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the pending Build Back Better legislation include significant down payments toward necessary investments in wildfire mitigation and suppression. As these programs are implemented, it is vital that we re-evaluate how we are approaching wildfires.
To that end, we ask that you direct your Administration to immediately review federal government policies and approaches to wildfire suppression. We applaud U.S. Forest Service Chief Randy Moore for understanding the gravity of the most recent fire season and directing federal firefighters to suppress every ignition as quickly as possible. However, this direction was temporary, indicating that we need a substantive and thorough review and update of federal wildfire suppression policy.
The National Fire Plan (NFP), which was developed in 2000 to provide a framework for responding to wildfires and assessing their impacts to communities, has not been updated in almost a decade. We ask that your Administration revisit the NFP with an eye toward improving interagency coordination and alignment around wildfire suppression, including decisions about initial attack, fire management and the use of specific firefighting strategies.
Based on feedback we have received from constituents and experts; we believe that such a review is urgently needed ahead of next fire season to ensure that federal firefighting agencies can keep pace in this new era of climate-driven mega blazes. For example, given the extreme drought conditions in many western states, we may need to tailor the use of backfiring or make investments to be able to fight fires on a round-the-clock basis to match the changing climate and increased public risk.
We recognize that during a crisis, the Federal government, State and Tribal governments, nonprofit organizations and the private sector are all critical partners. When we work together, we are better able to leverage our resources and maximize the effectiveness of our response.
We deeply appreciate your continued engagement on this issue and remain committed to working with you on this urgent priority.