WASHINGTON, D.C., DC — At a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing to examine the outlook for wildland fire and management programs for 2019, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) called upon the U.S. Forest Service to immediately implement "21st century tools" and resources to fight wildfires in Washington State and the West.
Cantwell says she wants the Forest Service to use GPS systems to monitor resources, assets and firefighters-- as early as this season.
“We want to use every resource that we can,” Cantwell said, addressing U.S. Forest Service Fire Aviation and Management Director Shawna Legarza. “We want this to be the same as any disaster that you’d be preparing for, whether it’s a hurricane in the South or a storm off our east coast. We view the fire season as a major storm impacting us.”
Recent forecasts project "above normal" wildfire activity throughout the summer in both eastern Washington and the western side of the state.
“Let’s get you the tools, but you have our attention. And you are going to continue to have our attention because it’s such a big issue,” Cantwell said. “The climate of hotter and drier conditions is going to continue to challenge us.”