Increasing the resiliency of communities at risk for wildfire
“With so little room for error, we must remain steadfast in our commitment to wildland fire preparedness, mitigation, and resilience. To do so, we must confront the reality that a changing climate is fueling these fire disasters.”
— Secretary Deb Haaland
Climate change is driving the devastating intersection of extreme heat, drought, and wildland fire danger across the United States, creating wildfires that move with a speed and intensity previously unseen. This has created conditions in which wildfires overwhelm response capabilities, resulting in billions of dollars in economic losses, damage to natural resources, devastation to communities, and the tragic loss of human life.
By making smart investments in critical infrastructure and wildland fire response, the Department of the Interior is helping lead the Biden-Harris administration’s response to the increasingly complex fire environment.
Paramount to this issue is promoting climate resiliency across landscapes and communities, modernizing the firefighter workforce while creating good jobs, and protecting the safety and long-term wellbeing of our wildland firefighters and incident responders.
The President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda would help better prepare communities and ecosystems against the threat of wildland fire, including by making historic investments in forest restoration, hazardous fuels management and post-wildfire restoration activities across America’s national parks, forests and grasslands.
In preparation for the challenging wildfire season, President Biden also directed a number of actions to ensure the federal government can most effectively protect public safety and deliver assistance to communities. The Administration has also bolstered firefighter pay, so that no firefighter make less than $15 an hour this year.
The combined resources for wildland fire response across Interior’s land management agencies — including the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — and the Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service include 15,000 firefighters, more than 500 helicopters, 91 single engine airtankers or SEATs, up to 34 airtankers, 360 pieces of heavy equipment, and more than 1,600 engines.
The Department’s wildland fire management goals include supporting science and research into the effects of climate change on wildland fire. We are committed to using the latest science and technologies to enhance our operational capability and decision-making so when firefighting resources are used, they are able to work safely and effectively and protect critical infrastructure and natural resources.
The Administration’s recently released America the Beautiful initiative also recognizes that restoring forests through collaborative, locally-led, incentive-based practices creates jobs and reduces the threat of catastrophic wildfire. We owe the brave women and men on the frontlines the right tools and training they need to protect our communities and our lands from the increasing threat of fire. The Interior Department will continue to leverage our valuable partnerships with state and local governments, Tribes, and the private sector to address and mitigate wildfire risk.