This summer our region has been ravaged by wildfires. We’ve seen unprecedented damage—homes burned, communities evacuated, and both civilians and firefighters tragically killed. An area nearly the size of the State of Delaware has burned, and dark, smoke-filled skies across our state remind everyone of the devastation facing our region.
Until we are certain you and your neighbors are safe from these catastrophic fires, we will pay whatever it costs to fight them.
That is our policy today, and I will ensure it continues to be our policy.
Over the past two decades we have more than doubled funding for wildfire management. Last December, I voted to fully fund wildfire fighting at $1.39 billion, and that law was signed by President Obama. Those funds are being used right now to help pay for firefighters and equipment battling the blazes across Eastern Washington.
Throughout the summer I have visited firefighting teams who are working tireless hours to keep all of us safe. The funding we voted for in December supports these men and women as they fight wildfires.
We will continue to make certain there is enough money to fight these fires and keep people safe. It’s the right thing to do. But we must also take steps to help stop forest fires from reaching catastrophic levels. It’s the responsible thing to do.
This spring I introduced a bill to do just this, and earlier this summer I helped author and pass through the House bipartisan legislation that will help prevent catastrophic fire, effectively fight wildfires when they happen, and bring jobs and opportunity to rural communities. For more information about my plan to create healthier forests, click here to read my Op-Ed published by The Spokesman-Review on July 19.
Furthermore, in the aftermath of these fires, we must reduce dangerous trees left behind and provide funds for forest restoration—my goal will be to push for timely salvage and reforestation.
Visiting the Carpenter Road Fire Command Center in Fruitland—click here for the full story and click here for more photos
As we move from crisis to recovery, many will continue to face significant challenges. If you have questions or need help, please reach out to my office at 509-353-2374.
I will continue to monitor the situation closely. And I will continue to push for solutions to help stop future fires and preserve healthier forests for generations to come.