Daines, Merkley Call on Biden Administration to Protect Communities from Dangers of Wildfire Smoke, Increase Active Management to Mitigate the Risk of Catastrophic Fire

U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senators Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) led a group of bipartisan senators in sending a letter to Biden administration officials on the need to use prescribed fires to protect communities from the negative impacts of catastrophic wildfires.

“For decades, western states have faced smoke filled summers that harm vulnerable populations, degrade the enjoyment of the outdoors, and weaken the economic vitality of communities that support outdoor recreation industries. Prescribed fire is a proven method to reduce risk of catastrophic wildfire and the associated smoke from the mega-fires confronting our communities today. Given the significant harms that wildfire smoke alone causes, the MOU gives your agencies the opportunity to allow for prescribed fire, which is a vital tool to mitigating wildfire risk, while protecting public health. Prescribed fires cause a small amount of smoke at a predictable time and in a more controlled manner, which is far preferable to the large and unpredictable smoke of catastrophic wildfires,” the senators wrote.

On November 8th, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of the Interior (DOI), Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to enhance collaboration to protect communities from the negative impacts of wildfire smoke. Complex and technical regulations continue to limit the use of prescribed fires, which produce far less smoke than wildfires and can be planned when wind is blowing away from communities.

Read the full letter sent to the EPA, DOI, USDA and the CDC HERE.

Senators Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) joined Daines and Merkley in sending the letter.