Ahead of Wildfire Season, U.S. Senators Hickenlooper & Bennet Urge Biden to Boost Disaster Funding

Colorado experienced three of the state’s largest wildfires in 2020

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet joined senators from Western states to urge President Biden to provide additional relief to states struggling with the impact of extreme drought and wildfires.

Nearly half of Colorado is currently in some state of drought and the National Weather Service has issued an “extremely critical” fire warning for Northwestern Colorado, the first such warning in 15 years.

“We write to urge you to provide relief to states that are struggling with the impact of extreme drought and wildfire this summer and uncompensated damage from past wildfires, hurricanes, floods, and storms. We urge you to request additional funding to meet those needs,” Hickenlooper, Bennet, and the senators wrote.

“According to the Drought Monitor, over half of the United States is experiencing a historic drought. Over 95% of the West is now either abnormally dry or in a drought, which is among the highest percentages in the past 20 years. In addition, over 800,000 acres of forests and rangelands have been burned by wildfire over the past year. The scale and nature of the problem is quickly outpacing the availability of funding and authorities of federal agencies.”


In addition to Hickenlooper and Bennet, the letter was signed by Senators Jeff Merkley, Ron Wyden,  Alex Padilla, Dianne Feinstein, Kyrsten Sinema, Catherine Cortez Masto, Mark Kelly, and Jacky Rosen.

The senators’ letter also emphasized that communities are still grappling with the effects of last year’s drought and wildfires, in part because they never received supplemental relief for these disasters. While the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has offered substantial support, the scale of natural disasters that occurred in 2020 necessitates a disaster supplemental.

Text of the letter is available here and below.

Dear President Biden:

We write to urge you to provide relief to states that are struggling with the impact of extreme drought and wildfire this summer and uncompensated damage from past wildfires, hurricanes, floods, and storms. We urge you to request additional funding to meet those needs.

According to the Drought Monitor, over half of the United States is experiencing a historic drought. Over 95% of the West is now either abnormally dry or in a drought, which is among the highest percentages in the past 20 years. In addition, over 800,000 acres of forests and rangelands have been burned by wildfire over the past year. The scale and nature of the problem is quickly outpacing the availability of funding and authorities of federal agencies.

In addition to the escalating impact of this year’s drought and wildfires, many states and communities never received supplemental relief for damage for disasters in 2020. While in most cases the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has delivered substantial emergency relief to affected communities, the scale of natural disasters experienced in 2020 demands additional resources that can only be delivered through a disaster supplemental.

We thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to working with you on this important issue.

Sincerely,

By Brian Allmer - The BARN

Brian Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.