WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) announced that she has joined Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Senate colleagues in a bipartisan letter to Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Richard Shelby (R-AL), Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Defense, respectively, requesting robust funding in the FY 2022 funding bill for the National Guard to support wildland firefighting efforts in communities across western states, which are already facing severe drought and wildfires.

“In 2020, the West experienced severe drought, which resulted in some of the driest conditions on record. More than 50,000 fires burned 10 million acres with fires lasting well into the fall, destroying homes, businesses, and critical infrastructure. Throughout the summer and fall, National Guard members proved to be pivotal firefighting forces across the West,” wrote the Senators. “As the country struggles to adapt to longer and more severe wildfire seasons, additional resources to train members of the National Guard is critical. Guard members must have the appropriate training and equipment to fulfill their missions and this funding is critical to ensure they are properly prepared.”

BACKGROUND: Last week, Senator Rosen announced that she and Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) led a group of six of their Senate colleagues in a bipartisan letter to Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, respectively, requesting strong support for wildfire suppression and forest management funding.

During a recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Senator Rosen secured a commitment from the Air Force’s Acting Secretary John Roth and General Charles Q. Brown, Jr., Chief of Staff of the Air Force, to consider upgrading the Nevada Air National Guard’s C-130H fleet with C-130Js. This upgrade would increase the Guard’s readiness and firefighting capabilities in Nevada and the western United States, where every year Nevada is plagued by devastating fires.

The full text of the Senators’ letter can be found here and below.

Dear Chairman Tester and Vice Chairman Shelby,

We write to urge you to provide robust funding for the National Guard to support firefighting efforts in communities across the nation, particularly in the West, affected by wildfires in the Fiscal Year 2022 Defense Appropriations bill.

In 2020, the West experienced severe drought, which resulted in some of the driest conditions on record. More than 50,000 fires burned 10 million acres with fires lasting well into the fall, destroying homes, businesses, and critical infrastructure. Throughout the summer and fall, National Guard members proved to be pivotal firefighting forces across the West.

As the country struggles to adapt to longer and more severe wildfire seasons, additional resources to train members of the National Guard is critical. Guard members must have the appropriate training and equipment to fulfill their missions and this funding is critical to ensure they are properly prepared.

As you develop the FY2022 Defense Appropriations bill, robust funding for wildfire training is critical to the National Guard’s ability to protect communities from wildfires.

Thank you for considering this request.

Sincerely,

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