Sen. Mitt Romney applauds Interior’s $5.5M investment in reducing risk, mitigating impacts of Utah wildfires

Photo: U.S. Department of the Interior

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — The U.S. Department of the Interior has announced a $5.5 million investment to reduce wildfire risk, mitigate impacts and rehabilitate burned areas in Utah.

The funding is part the $103 million allocated by the Interior Department from President Joe Biden‘s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to complete fuels treatments on nearly 2 million acres nationwide — including 24,490 acres in Utah — this fiscal year.

“As climate change drives harsher heat waves, more volatile weather and record drought conditions, we are seeing wildfire seasons turn to wildfire years, threatening communities, businesses, wildlife and the environment,” Tommy Beaudreau, deputy secretary of the Interior, said in a news release.

“Through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are investing in Utah communities, advancing wildfire resilience work across the country, improving resources for the heroic firefighting workforce and reducing the risk of wildfire.”

The announcement comes while Beaudreau is visiting the Western U.S. to highlight how investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act are advancing wildfire resilience and drought resilience, the release states.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, applauded the investment in a statement Tuesday, saying it “will better position Utah and our country to meet the infrastructure-related challenges of the 21st century.”

“As the American West continues to get drier and years of poor management practices have caused fires to become more destructive, it becomes more imperative that we improve strategies which bolster wildfire resilience and prevent future wildfires from becoming catastrophic disasters in our state and across the West,” Romney said. “That’s why I worked to ensure this funding was included in the bipartisan infrastructure bill, and I look forward to seeing these projects come to fruition to reduce wildfire risks and rehabilitate areas already affected.”

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes $1.5 billion over the next five years for the Interior Department to invest in preparedness, fuels management, post-fire restoration and fire science, Interior officials said.

It also directs major reforms for federal wildland firefighters, including temporary pay increases and a new occupational series classification more specific to firefighters, the release states.

Interior’s investments in wildland fire management in Utah will increase fuels treatment in areas with high wildfire hazard potential, helping to protect homes, businesses and public drinking water, according to the news release.


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