December 11, 2020

Cortez Masto Cosponsors Bill to Help Communities Prepare for Wildfires

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) has cosponsored the Wildfire Defense Act, comprehensive legislation to help communities implement science-based methods for mitigating wildfire damage and defending life and property. The legislation would provide local communities with up to $10 million dollars to implement Community Wildfire Defense Plans to ensure they are resilient in the face of the growing threat of wildfire in Nevada and across the country.                   

“I’m proud to cosponsor this bill to help make Nevada communities more resilient. The Silver State has been devastated by recent fires, but I’ve been working with Nevadans from every walk of life to reduce the risk of fires, respond to them when they occur, and rehabilitate afterwards. Grants for wildfire preparedness just make sense—when we can prepare for disaster, we can minimize its impacts on vulnerable Nevadans, on businesses, and on our landscapes. I’ll keep working in the Senate to do everything I can to get Nevada the resources it needs to cope with wildfires.”


Senator Cortez Masto has been a strong advocate for policies to prevent wildfires and to help Nevadans cope with the fires that occur. She has repeatedly called for the federal government to do more to support Western states affected by fire. In 2018, she worked to pass legislation to fix the problematic practice of fire-borrowing – taking money from other land management accounts to pay for wildfire services. She also has requested that the Nevada Air National Guard get the tools it needs to help combat these fires, including C-130J aircraft that could fight fires all over the West. She helped secure funding for the University of Nevada, Reno’s ALERTWildfire Program, which uses state-of-the-art cameras to monitor fires. In addition, she has introduced bipartisan legislation to stop those whose unauthorized drones interfere with fire-fighting efforts. In 2019, she hosted a first-of-its kind wildfire summit in Nevada to allow firefighters, ranchers, conservationists, scientists, power companies, and representatives of government agencies to find new ways to coordinate and collaborate. She held a similar wildfire briefing virtually in June, 2020. Recently, she spoke with Nevadans working to adapt their communities for wildfires.

The Wildfire Defense Act would invest $1 billion per year to:

  • Establish guidelines for communities to conceptualize new Community Wildfire Defense Plans (CWDP) that are developed in coordination with community members, first responders, and relevant state agencies. CWDPs will focus on implementing strategies and activities relating to:
    • Improving evacuations and access for first responders
    • Addressing vulnerable populations, including the elderly, those with disabilities, and the homeless
    • Hardening critical infrastructure and homes
    • Applying defensible space to create a buffer between communities and the forest
    • Deploying distributed energy resources like microgrids with battery storage
    • Educating community members
  • Provide grants of up to $250,000 for a community to develop a CWDP and grants of up to $10 million to implement a CWDP
    • Grants will be prioritized for low-income communities that are in a wildfire hazard area and communities recently impacted by a major wildfire
  • Study how a CWDP could be used as certification for insurance companies assessing a community resilience.
  • Complete a report on all federal authorities and programs to protect communities from wildfires.