Ahead of wildfire season, Senators urge Biden to boost disaster funding

Senator Bennet

U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet joined senators from Western states to urge President Biden to provide additional relief to states struggling with the impact of extreme drought and wildfires.

Nearly half of Colorado is currently in some state of drought and the National Weather Service has issued an “extremely critical” fire warning for Northwestern Colorado, the first such warning in 15 years.

“We write to urge you to provide relief to states that are struggling with the impact of extreme drought and wildfire this summer and uncompensated damage from past wildfires, hurricanes, floods, and storms. We urge you to request additional funding to meet those needs,” Hickenlooper, Bennet, and the senators wrote.

“According to the Drought Monitor, over half of the United States is experiencing a historic drought. Over 95% of the West is now either abnormally dry or in a drought, which is among the highest percentages in the past 20 years. In addition, over 800,000 acres of forests and rangelands have been burned by wildfire over the past year. The scale and nature of the problem is quickly outpacing the availability of funding and authorities of federal agencies.”

In addition to Hickenlooper and Bennet, the letter was signed by Senators Jeff Merkley, Ron Wyden, Alex Padilla, Dianne Feinstein, Kyrsten Sinema, Catherine Cortez Masto, Mark Kelly, and Jacky Rosen.

The senators’ letter also emphasized that communities are still grappling with the effects of last year’s drought and wildfires, in part because they never received supplemental relief for these disasters. While the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has offered substantial support, the scale of natural disasters that occurred in 2020 necessitates a disaster supplemental.

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