Reno, Nev. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) released the following statement detailing the appropriation of additional federal money to address wildfire funding shortfalls and support Nevada’s brave firefighters.
“In the past year, the U.S. Forest Service and Department of the Interior spent nearly $2.9 billion on fighting wildfires, the most expensive fire season on record. In Nevada, there were 658 wildfires in 2017, burning a total of 1.19 million acres across the state. As the wildfire season grows longer and hotter each year, it is long past time to find a comprehensive solution to the wildfire funding problems that have plagued the West.”
“I am proud to have fought so hard for funding in this omnibus legislation that puts an end to the harmful process of ‘fire borrowing,’ which forces the U.S. Forest Service to take funds from critical programs and apply them to the cost of fighting fires. This is an important fix which establishes a $2 billion contingency account for the Forest Service to use in case of particularly bad fire years and it also frees up over $100 million for fire prevention projects. In addition, federal agencies will now be able to access disaster recovery funds for particularly expensive fires. This means more funding for fire prevention, mitigation and recovery efforts and increased support for coordinated response centers to fight remote, hard to reach fires. The ability to support these brave heroes, like the firefighters I met with at the Reno Fire Department and the dispatchers at the Elko Fire Interagency Dispatch Center, is crucial.”
“Congress must ensure that our brave men and women firefighters and first responders have the federal funds and tools necessary to fight wildfires and protect lives and property. I will continue to fight for resources that help put out blazes when they start and prevent catastrophic wildfires before they happen. These investments reduce devastation when wildfires break out and proactively protect lives, property and businesses.”