Bentz, House Republicans Prompt Administration to Open Applications for Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission
Oregon Congressman Cliff Bentz,
Congressman Cliff Bentz (OR-02) led a group of House Republicans in writing to the Biden Administration to seek information about the Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission, which was authorized by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The Act tasked U.S. Department of Interior (DOI), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with establishing the Commission and appointing members. The letter highlighted concerns that the congressionally-mandated deadlines for appointing members to the Commission passed. The Administration announced today that it is taking steps to solicit applications to the Commission.
“Every summer, wildfires threaten the lives, homes, and property of Oregonians and people across the West. During the 2020 wildfire season, over 10 million acres burned nationwide, including 1 million acres and 4,000 homes in Oregon alone. The 2021 Bootleg Fire burned almost half a million acres in Oregon, making it the second largest fire in the United States for the entire year. My colleagues and I called out the Administration’s delay in appointing members to the Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission. I was pleased that today, the Administration announced that applications to the Commission are going live. While the delay was unfortunate, this is a step in the right direction,” said Congressman Cliff Bentz, (OR-02).
“I am grateful to Rep. Bentz for leading the charge to address the threat wildfires pose to rural communities throughout the West,” said Rep. Dan Newhouse (WA-04), Chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus. “If the Wildland Fire Commission is going to be successful, they must work collaboratively with states, local leaders, and impacted communities. This guidance from the Administration is long overdue, and the information released today still lacks the clarity western communities need regarding how members of the commission are chosen and the scope of their work.”
“Severe wildfires continue to threaten communities across Oregon every summer. Congressman Bentz’s letter called out the risk to Oregonians caused by the Biden Administration’s delays in appointing members to the Commission. It is good to see that the Administration has finally taken action to begin the process. I hope that the Commission will fulfill its duty to address wildfire risk and that it will coordinate, collaborate, and communicate with state, county, and local leaders. Oregonians can afford no more delay—the time for the Administration to act is now,” said Jackson County Commissioner Colleen Roberts.
“It’s better late than never that the Administration will open up the application process for the Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission that was included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to address the catastrophic wildfire events we are experiencing,” said Tim Freeman, Douglas County Commissioner and President of the Association of O&C Counties.
The full list of cosigners is as follows: Western Caucus Chairman Dan Newhouse (Washington-04), Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (Arkansas-04), Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Washington-05), Rep. Lauren Boebert (Colorado-03), Rep. Ken Calvert (California-42), Rep. Russ Fulcher (Idaho-01), Rep. Doug LaMalfa (California-01), Rep. Jay Obernolte (California-08), Rep. Matthew Rosendale, Sr. (Montana-AL), and Rep. Pete Stauber (Minnesota-08).
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