Rosen, Cortez Masto Help Introduce Legislation to Strengthen Federal Wildfire Science

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) joined Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), and a coalition of other senators in introducing the National Wildland Fire Risk Reduction Program Act. This legislation will help the country’s federal science agencies to identify and invest in research and development (R&D) and cutting-edge technology to help improve wildfire preparedness and response.  

“As climate change continues to increase the frequency and intensity of drought and wildfires in the West, Nevada is being hit incredibly hard by these extreme weather events,” said Senator Rosen. “I’m cosponsoring this vital and commonsense legislation to ensure that our states and communities have access to the resources and data necessary to track, prevent, and respond to wildfires.”

“Wildfires are becoming more frequent and more destructive, and this legislation will allow the federal science agencies to pursue an all-of-the-above approach to wildfire preparedness and prevention,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “Investing in wildfire resilience is a top priority of mine, and I’ll keep working to provide Nevada every tool possible to protect our communities.” 

In 2020, the U.S. tied its most active wildfire year on record, with 10.1 million acres burned. Since the National Interagency Fire Center began compiling data in 1983, the average annual land area scorched by wildfires has more than tripled, coinciding with a steady increase in annual temperature and exacerbated by worsening drought conditions in the West. 

The National Wildland Fire Risk Reduction Program Act would set up warning and forecast systems, develop observation and sensing technologies, and standardize data collection efforts to improve the nation’s preparedness, resilience, and response to wildfires. This legislation would establish a National Wildland Fire Risk Reduction Program with the purpose of achieving major measurable reductions in the losses of life, property, and natural resources from wildland fires through a coordinated federal effort to: 

  • Improve the understanding and prediction of the fire environment, wildland fires, associated smoke, and their impacts, including in the wildland-urban interface (WUI), on communities, buildings and other infrastructure, ecosystem services and watersheds, and social and economic outcomes;

  • Develop and implement science-based and cost-effective measures to enhance community resilience, address and mitigate wildland fire and associated smoke impacts, and restore natural fire regimes to meet ecosystem needs;

  • Improve the understanding and mitigation of the impacts of climate change, drought, and climate variability on wildland fire risk, frequency, and severity.   

Senators Rosen and Cortez Masto have worked hard to deliver for Nevada firefighters and have led federal efforts to combat devastating wildfires. They have repeatedly called for the federal government to do more to support Western states affected by fire, and supported the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law which provided robust funding to help prevent and combat wildfires.