Governors across the West are asking for federal support to ensure that wildfire restoration becomes a priority, just like wildfire suppression and mitigation efforts.
Troy Timmons of the Western Governors’ Association says that while federal, state and local agencies come together to fight wildfires, there isn't a collaborative system in place for post-fire response.
“That's especially important in the Great Basin states, where you'll have sage grouse habitats being affected by wildfires,” Timmons said.
Last month, WGA sent a letter, signed by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Idaho Gov. Brad Little, to the co-chairs of the federal Wildland Fire Leadership Council stressing the importance of restoration.
“This is a long-term endeavor, but it will reduce the reliance on suppression infrastructure, shift the focus to land management activities, and result in sustainable resilient ecosystems and safer communities,” they wrote.
The letter comes at the end of a historic fire season along the West Coast and across parts of the Mountain West, fueled in part by climate change and more than a century of fire suppression.
“A wildfire is an important and natural process in forest and land ecosystems,” Timmons said. But, he says, agencies need to come together afterward to restore habitat and help Western landscapes become more resilient to future fires.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.