Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke hosted a fire briefing for Members of Congress at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to hear the forecast for 2018’s wildfire season. Following the meeting, the secretaries sent a memorandum to wildland fire leadership highlighting the importance of inter-departmental collaboration to increase firefighter, public, and community safety as the 2018 wildfire season approaches. The 2017 wildfire season was one of the most challenging years on record, stressing the need for the USDA and the Department of the Interior to work together in combating 2018’s fires.
“As we begin this fire season, we want to remind everyone that the protection of firefighters and public safety is the single highest priority in every fire management activity and decision that we make,” Perdue and Zinke said. “In 2017 we lost 14 wildland firefighters who sacrificed their own lives to protect the lives of others and that is something we hope to prevent in 2018.”
“Additionally, both Departments will continue to collaborate to ensure all firefighting assets are being used in an efficient and effective manner. It is essential that firefighters have the right tools, resources, and flexibility to allow them to do their jobs safely. As we explore opportunities to improve efficiencies, we will look to integrate technology, such as the use of unmanned aircraft systems, into our operations and capitalize on other advancements to promote firefighter safety, support planning, and protect communities.”
Members of Congress in attendance were Senators Michael Bennet (CO), Maria Cantwell (WA), Mike Crapo (ID), Steve Daines (MT), Cory Gardner (CO), Dean Heller (NV), Jeff Merkley (OR), Jim Risch (ID), Ron Wyden (OR); and Representatives Rob Bishop (UT), Jim Costa (CA), Jared Huffman (CA), Doug LaMalfa (CA), Frank Lucas (OK), Tom McClintock (CA), Tom O’Halleran (AZ), Steve Pearce (NM), GT Thompson (PA), Greg Walden (OR), and Bruce Westerman (AR).
Featured Image: U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue hosted U.S. Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke and U.S. Senators at the U.S.Department of Agriculture for a 2018 fire briefing to hear about efforts to contain wildfires out west as well as the way the USFS is funded. USDA photo by Tom Witham