Luján, Lummis Introduce Legislation to Improve Federal Wildfire Recovery Efforts
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) introduced the Responsible Wildland Fire Recovery Act, which would allow the Secretary of Agriculture to waive all cost share requirements for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs as a result of wildfires started by controlled burns and other land management activities conducted by the USDA on National Forest System land. Current law does not fully cover remediation costs in cases where the government is responsible for a wildfire’s ignition.
The Responsible Wildland Fire Recovery Act empowers the Secretary of Agriculture to fully cover cash cost share requirements and allows the Secretary to expedite much needed infrastructural repairs in communities devastated by wildfires out of their control.
“From an early age I was taught, when you break something, you leave it better than you found it. That same life principle applies to our communities that were destroyed by wildfires that started as well-intentioned federal land management activities. However, the federal government currently bears no responsibility to fully cover costs for remediation and recovery,” said Senator Luján. “This practice is dangerous for New Mexico’s small, rural communities as they must bear the financial burden of rebuilding their homes and infrastructure. That’s why I’m introducing bipartisan legislation that allows the Secretary of Agriculture to remove costs share requirements and ensure local communities are not left to fend for themselves during their recovery.”
“Controlled burns by the federal government are one of the most effective preventive techniques to protect Wyoming communities from the deadly threat of wildfires,” said Senator Lummis. “While it is rare, these controlled burns can get out of control and wreak havoc on the very areas they are supposed to protect. The Responsible Wildfire Response Act provides the Secretary of Agriculture with the necessary tools to remedy any damage done to Wyoming communities by controlled burns while continuing to practice responsible wildfire prevention.”