TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) Five U.S. Senators from western states introduced a bill to help communities recover from wildfires last week.
Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch from Idaho joined the Western Mitigation Assistance Act.
The bill treats wildfires in the same way as other natural disasters. It does that by making hazard mitigation assistance funding available to states affected by catastrophic fires.
“Throughout the American west, we have felt firsthand the devastation wildfires have on our habitat, our health and our way of life,” Crapo said in a press release. “The Wildfire Mitigation Assistance Act would allow fire-prone communities to apply for Hazard Mitigation grants through the Federal Emergency Management Agency in order to undertake ‘fire-wise' projects for homes in the wildland urban interface or to reduce hazardous fuels. Congress must continue to pursue efforts aimed at reducing the risk and severity of wildfires, as well as improve the response, prevention and mitigation efforts.”
Currently states can receive federal funding for fires when the president declares a major disaster. The release about the bill says that doesn't happen as often as other natural disasters like hurricanes and floods.
The bill allows states impacted by wildfires can access the Hazard Mitigation Grant program to implement measures that reduce the risk of flooding and erosion and take action to prevent future wildfires.
"Massive wildfires destroy homes, businesses, and ecosystems in the west just like catastrophic hurricanes destroy communities in coastal regions," Risch said in a press release. "This bill will help local governments in Idaho and across the west deal with the aftermath of large wildfires."