RENO, Nev. (News 4-Fox 11) — Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto is pushing the Western Wildfire Support Act to help Nevada and neighboring western states get training, equipment and money to combat wildfires.
"In Nevada, we no longer have a wildfire season, it's year round," said Sen. Cortez Masto. "There is a climate crisis going on and we have to bring the resources together to address these wildfires."
Reno Fire Chief David Cochran was with the senator in Washington D.C. to talk climate change as she introduced the bill.
"He's on the front lines," she said. "He sees it every day so I wanted to bring that to Washington so people can understand what's happening in the west and so that they will get behind the legislation."
The Western Wildfire Support Act focuses on:
- Directs the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to create fire management plans for federal land in Nevada and across the western U.S. These plans will include pre-fire planning, wildfire response management, and post-fire recovery.
- Provides funding to help communities, homeowners, and businesses prepare for wildfires by increasing their defensible space, launching community cleanup efforts, and organizing wildfire prevention education programs.
- Authorizes funds to acquire aircraft for wildfire management operations.
- Directs DOI and USDA to expedite the placement of wildfire detection equipment – including cameras and heat sensors – in at-risk wildfire areas.
(This provision was recently awarded $10 million in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s infrastructure legislation, and it builds upon the success of the ALERTWildfire camera network that originated in Lake Tahoe.)
- Establishes a grant program to help federal, state, and local agencies acquire state-of-the-art firefighting equipment – including air-tankers and slip-on tank units.
- Provides funding to research and develop the use of FAA-approved drones to fight wildfires.
- Includes a bipartisan provision to stop unauthorized drones from interfering with fire-fighting efforts.
- Authorizes FEMA to create online resource guides to help communities and individuals impacted by wildfires access available assistance and resources.
- Provides $100 million in funding to help communities impacted by wildfires conduct long-term rehabilitation projects.
- Establishes a competition to combat the spread of wildfire-related invasive species and help preserve the pre-fire natural landscape.
Senator Cortez Masto already secured nearly $3.5 billion in funding for provisions included in this legislation in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee's infrastructure package.