U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) today applauded an announcement from the USDA Forest Service regarding expanded efforts to reduce wildfire risk in Utah and across the West. The Uinta-Wasatch–Cache National Forest in Northern Utah and the Pine Valley area of the Dixie National Forest near St. George will receive increased funding to build critical infrastructure and strengthen wildfire resilience to protect from catastrophic wildfire—made possible because of Senator Romney’s involvement during Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act negotiations to ensure Utah had a seat at the table.
“I was proud to help negotiate the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which will better position Utah and our country to meet the infrastructure-related challenges of the 21st century,” Senator Romney said. “It is imperative that we improve strategies which bolster wildfire resilience and prevent future wildfires from becoming catastrophic disasters in our state and across the West, which is why I worked to ensure funding for critical areas like the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache and Pine Valley projects were included in the bipartisan infrastructure bill. I appreciate Secretary Vilsack for implementing this funding, and I look forward to seeing these projects come to fruition to reduce wildfire risks and rehabilitate areas already affected.”
Details on the USDA Forest Service Funding Announcement:
The Wasatch Landscape, part of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, is approximately 1.1 million acres, encompassing 714,000 acres of National Forest System lands. Approximately 382,000 acres, or 44 percent, of the Wasatch landscape is classified as a high or very high-risk fireshed, posing a considerable threat to the function of vital watersheds, plant and wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities, and private property.
The Pine Valley Landscape rests in the Dixie National Forest and is approximately 400,000 acres, encompassing 250,000 acres of National Forest System lands. Values at risk in this priority area include water quality, watershed health and resiliency, critical infrastructure including major national energy corridors, wildland-urban interface, and intermixed public and private land in St. George and adjacent communities.
Background on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act:
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, negotiated by Senator Romney and his colleagues, is bringing much-needed support to communities across the country to increase the resilience of lands facing the threat of wildland fires and to better support federal wildland firefighters. It includes $1.5 billion for the Department of Interior over the next five years to invest in preparedness, fuels management, post-fire restoration, and fire science. It also directs major reforms for federal wildland firefighters, including temporary pay increases and a new occupational series classification more specific to firefighters. Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act investments in wildland fire management in Utah will increase fuels treatment in areas with high wildfire hazard potential, helping to protect homes and businesses in the wildland-urban interface and public drinking water. These efforts will promote climate resiliency across landscapes and communities and will employ Tribal members, youth, and veterans.