Email update: Improving our response to wildfires | Congressman Ami Bera

Email update: Improving our response to wildfires

Sep 2, 2015
Ami's Updates

I sent an email update on Wednesday on how I'm working in Congress to improve our response to wildfires. Join my email updates now so you don't miss any in the future!

Our state has seen a record wildfire season this year. Dangerous fires have plagued Northern California and still threaten many areas. 

Our firefighters are doing a terrific job in battling these fires. They put their own safety at risk to protect our communities, lives, and property. We owe them a great debt and I join with all Californians in thanking them for their incredible sacrifices.

But Congress also has an obligation to better support our firefighters and their mission. We need to do a better job in managing the risk of wildfires and the havoc they cause.

That's why I'm supporting the bipartisan Wildfire Disaster Funding Act. 

Met with representatives from CAL-Fire in my local office earlier this year to hear how Congress can help our state’s firefighters.

As you may have heard, the U.S. Forest Service is going over budget to fight fires throughout the western United States. In fact, according to a recent story in the Sacramento Bee, the Forest Service is now spending more than half of its money on firefighting for the first time this year. 

This forces the Forest Service to take money away from other important programs. It harms not only conservation, but steps that can prevent fires in the first place, such as clearing away dead brush.

The Wildfire Disaster Funding Act helps address this issue with a new emergency funding process. This new process would be similar to how we fund the Federal Emergency Management Agency when they respond to other disasters such as hurricanes. This would allow the Forest Service to fight fires more effectively and allow them to continue other vital work. 

An informative graphic from a new Forest Service report, “The Rising Costs of Wildfire Operations: Effects on the Forest Service’s Non-Fire Work.

I also recently voted for the Resilient Forests Act, which passed the House. In addition to fixing how we fund the Forest Service’s firefighting activities, it promotes healthy forests by streamlining the removal of dry brush and other fuels for fires. Additionally, I’ve urged the Federal Aviation Administration to helpstop civilian drones from recklessly interfering with firefighting aircraft.

These are all important steps. Unfortunately though, California’s drought has made this situation even more dangerous. Dry conditions are fueling fires throughout our state, so addressing our drought is a critical part of dealing with this issue too.

This is one of the reasons why I fought a reckless, partisan water grab bill earlier this yearThis bill does nothing to address our water shortage and would send more water out of Sacramento County to other parts of the state.

Our area simply doesn't have any more water to send, which is why I fought to amend this bill. My amendment would ensure there is an adequate supply of safe drinking water and enough water available to fight wildfires.

Folsom Lake supplies drinking water for many communities in our area and is at historic lows. We can’t afford to send more water out of our area because of partisan politics.

Instead, I’m supporting the Drought Relief and Resilience Act. This bill takes a more comprehensive approach to our drought emergency. It ensures more emergency aid to help Californians who need help right away. It also includes more long term relief such as new water infrastructure to help better deal with future droughts.

With our drought and a changing climate that is linked to more forest fires, we have to act now. We need to be thoughtful to protect our communities and to conserve our natural resources. 

If you have thoughts on these issues that you’d like to share with me, please feel free to click here to contact me.

Be well,

Ami Bera, M.D.
Member of Congress
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