SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Utah Senator Mitt Romney is taking a stand to protect wildlife, and hopes that the nation will do the same.
On June 18, in Draper City, Romney announced the upcoming introduction of the Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission Act of 2021. The new legislation hopes to establish a wildfire commission which would conduct a national review of wildfire policy and make recommendations to Congress.
In partnership with U.S. Senator Mark Kelly, Draper City Mayor Troy Walker, and Acting Director of the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands Jamie Barnes, the team share support toward the act, and hope Romney’s efforts will ultimately improve the Nation’s wildlife policy.
According to officials, the legislation is expected to be unveiled next week.
The National Interagency Fire Council detail that nearly 60,000 fires burned across 10 million acres, more than 53,000 of which were human-caused fires.
“It’s getting drier in the American West — our state is getting drier. The fires are becoming bigger. The loss of life is more significant. And continuing to do things the way we’ve done them in the past doesn’t make a lot of sense. And that’s the reason that Senator Kelly of Arizona and I have introduced a piece of legislation to create a commission which would be focused on mitigating the effects of fires and preventing them from happening,” Senator Romney states. “The policies of the past are hung up on the fact that we have land owned by different folks. Sometimes one department of the federal government takes responsibility for land…other times it’s state land, [or] private land. Each has different rules and regulations and we just don’t get a coordinated, comprehensive approach to preventing fire. So the focus of this commission is to make sure that we have a comprehensive strategy for preventing fires from occurring, to the extent possible, and also getting them out as quickly as possible.”
In Utah, officials say nearly 400 fires have burned more than 40,000 acres of land. Almost 90% of these fires are human-caused. Current federal wildland fire policy is a patchwork of legislation and agency guidance across departments and jurisdictions, further complicated by mixed land ownership.
According to officials, this bill would require “a review of the nation’s wildland firefighting strategy, accompanied by specific policy recommendations, by a commission made up of the nation’s top experts, including state and local stakeholders.”