Gov. Polis Discusses Wildfire Prevention & Response with President Biden, Western Governors & Federal Officials
PIKES PEAK - Governor Jared Polis joined President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, administration officials, and Western Governors for a discussion on wildfire prevention, response and climate change.
“President Biden and his administration understand what our communities face and the immense magnitude of these challenges with hotter, drier and longer wildfire seasons in a climate-changed West,” said Governor Polis. “I was proud to share from the top of Pikes Peak at the new Pikes Peak Summit Visitors Center how Colorado has made strides on wildfire prevention and response. We welcome our partnership with President Biden whose team is committed to being strong partners with the states to effectively fight wildfires and do the work necessary to avoid and lessen the likelihood of future catastrophes. I thank leaders like Congressman Neguse, Senator Bennet and members of our legislature for their partnership on this challenging issue.”
Colorado saw the three largest wildfires in state history last year. The Polis administration has ramped up and prepared the state’s wildfire prevention and response efforts. This month, Governor Polis signed the bipartisan SB21-258 to invest $25 million in targeted wildfire risk mitigation, including initiating a joint effort with the U.S. Forest Service to identify, prioritize and fund key mitigation projects and expand the state’s inmate workforce development program to mitigation work in addition to wildfire fighting.. In April, Gov. Polis and the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control announced the 2021 Wildfire Preparedness Plan. In March, the Governor signed the bipartisan SB21-113 which enables the purchase of a new fire hawk helicopter that can quickly respond to and put out fires before they get out of control, funds the Colorado Firefighting Air Corps Fund and helps wildfire-impacted communities rebuild.
Gov. Polis also signed a bill to fund forest restoration, wildfire risk mitigation, wildfire preparedness and post-fire recovery and mitigation efforts as well as a bill to boost an existing Colorado Water Conservation Board grant program to protect watersheds from the impacts of wildfires. This new law will also set aside funding for a statewide watershed analysis of wildfire impacts.
In May, Governor Jared Polis met with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Senator Michael Bennet, and Congressman Joe Neguse for a discussion on the need to make long-term investments in restoring forests to protect them from catastrophic wildfire.