Wildfire Survivors, Experts Urge Congressional Action Ahead of Fire Season

Wildfire Survivors, Experts Urge Congressional Action Ahead of Fire Season

Written on 05/01/2021
Donovan Bell-Farmer

Wildfire Survivors and Experts urged Congress to act quickly to prevent more devastation on the West Coast.

What We Know:

  • Fire season this year threatens to be a historic one amid rising temperatures and drought. The House Natural Resources subcommittee recently listened to testimonies on managing forests, fighting climate change, and equipping federal firefighters. The hearing finished right before a brush fire erupted in Southern California. The fire forced some residents to evacuate their homes in Ventura County.
  • According to the U.S Drought Monitor, much of the West is experiencing levels of drought ranging from severe to exceptional. About 75% of the West is in a “megadrought.” The drought includes the Colorado River and the Rio Grande, both of which supply water for millions of people and businesses.
  • Congressional leaders remain split on how to address the crisis despite warnings from experts. Some members blame climate change, while others blame forest management. Some lawmakers are pushing for federal agencies to hire more firefighters. Other lawmakers would rather states take more proactive roles in securing communities.
  • Idaho Rep Russ Fulcher believes the main culprit of this disaster is decades of insufficient forest management. Fulcher asserts that the negligence has led to “overgrown, diseased and dying forests.” Rep. Joe Neguse made a statement saying Congress must stop the “drain” of federal resources to land agencies and increase the federal wildland workforce. Last year Neguse’s district was hit by two of the largest wildfires in Colorado’s history.

The East Troublesome Fire in Colorado claimed nearly 200,000 acres and killed two people.