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ICYMI: Senator Murray Statement on Wildfire State of Emergency in Washington State – MORE HERE

Senator Murray: “Devastating wildfires and record-setting droughts are quickly becoming the new normal. It’s something I take incredibly seriously and I’m focused on doing everything I can to mitigate these crises and to ensure Washington state is prepared for the worst.”  

***WATCH VIDEO OF THE EVENT HERE*** 

(Seattle, WA) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, joined Twisp Mayor Soo Ing-Moody; Yakima Fire Department Deputy Chief DJ Goldsmith; and Nature Conservancy Washington State Director Mike Stevens in a discussion on Washington state’s current fire season, provisions in the Senate’s recently passed bipartisan Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act, and other measures that will help prevent and fight wildfires. During the call, Senator Murray discussed the steps she has taken to protect Washington state families from past and present weather emergencies, and emphasized the need for broad action to address the worsening climate crisis.

“The historic wildfire season, emergency drought declaration, and heat waves this summer are stark reminders that the climate crisis is here and now—not some distant worry for another day,” said Senator Murray. “That’s why I’ve been pushing for landmark investments in wildfire recovery and prevention and in climate action as we work to get the Build Back Better agenda signed into law.”

During the event, Senator Murray discussed her efforts to secure major provisions in the bipartisan infrastructure bill and budget resolution to help fight and prevent wildfires in the immediate-term.

“Devastating wildfires and record-setting droughts are quickly becoming the new normal,” Senator Murray continued.  “It’s something I take incredibly seriously and I’m focused on doing everything I can to mitigate these crises and to ensure Washington state is prepared for the worst.”

“In our area wildfires have become more frequent, severe, and intense, which carries  of course potential for disaster. For the health and wellbeing of our state’s communities and natural areas we need to work together urgently now to assure that we address this proactively, so Senator I appreciate your work on behalf of our nation because we can’t afford to live year by year hoping the inevitable is not going to happen,” said Twisp Mayor Soo Ing-Moody. “Consistent and greater federal investment is urgently needed to proactively address the escalating wildfire crisis in Washington state, and we’re standing here as your partners at the local level.”

“With the COVID era that we’re in, the training opportunities have really been hard to get. So federal dollars on the training side of things to get folks out there on the ground and properly trained – to get them the equipment and resources they need – those grants that give our folks the resources they need are very critical to the success of our programs and managing all this,” said Yakima Fire Department Deputy Chief DJ Goldsmith. “The constant message we’re sending back to everybody that we can is to keep up the funding sources to get these departments that just can’t afford these new apparatus that are hundreds of thousands of dollars when their budgets are $50,000 dollars – it’s hard for them to get the equipment and resources they need. So that federal funding is very important to us.”

“This summer was yet another wake-up call for the Pacific Northwest. Our forests are under increasing stress from climate change - with extreme temperatures, historic drought, and longer, more intense wildfire seasons. While wildfire suppression costs have skyrocketed, investments in wildfire resilience have remained flat. We need a paradigm shift in approaching wildfire,” said Mike Stevens, Washington State Director for The Nature Conservancy. “Thankfully, the Senate Bipartisan Infrastructure bill delivers much needed resources to help make our lands and communities more resilient. We look forward to House passage of the bill and additional funding opportunities through the reconciliation process.”

In addition to helping secure $8 billion in wildfire risk reduction by providing funding for community wildfire defense grants, mechanical thinning, controlled burns, the Collaborative Forest Restoration Program, and firefighting resources in the Senate’s recently passed bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), Senator Murray has fought to pass legislation that created a budget for firefighting efforts separate from the rest of the National Forest Service’s budget (commonly referred to as the fire funding fix).

She has also prioritized securing the necessary funding for the Yakima River Basin Project and Columbia River Basin Project, which would transform water management and drought resiliency capabilities for the entire region, making a significant difference as Washington state works to fend off worsening fires and manage more severe droughts.

Between the IIJA and the Senate’s Build Back Better budget resolution, Senator Murray is also working to secure major investments in wildfire relief and prevention, as well as historic investments in combatting climate change and the extreme weather that results from it. 

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