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Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission report outlines recommendations to address growing U.S. wildfire crisis

Washington Energy Resilience and Emergency Management Director and Commission member King briefs state Congressional delegation on comprehensive report stressing urgency, collaboration, investing in resilience and more

OLYMPIA, WA — The Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission recently released its report PDF outlining a comprehensive, consensus-based set of recommendations to Congress to address the nation’s wildfire crisis.

“The recent disaster on Maui is a tragic reminder of the growing risks of wildfires to communities and the heartbreaking losses they leave behind. The detailed recommendations provided by this Commission emphasize the urgent need to work across jurisdictions and disciplines to protect our nation’s residents, communities, and natural resources from fire. Together, we will pave a bold new path to wildfire resilience nationwide,” said Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell.

In August in Washington state, wildfire killed two people and destroyed more homes than any other fire in state history, and in 2021, fire virtually leveled the small town of Malden in Lincoln County. In its capacity as home to the Energy Resilience and Emergency Management Office (EREMO), Commerce responded to 11 significant energy supply disruptions from a variety of causes in the past three years. Over the prior 10 years, there had been only one disruption.

Commission member and Washington EREMO Director Elizabeth ”Eli” King briefed nine of our state’s 12 Congressional delegation members in Washington D.C. this month on the report and next steps. Cody Desautel, Executive Director, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, served as Washington Forestry Industry Representative on the Commission, and Tim Cook, Washington State Hazard Mitigation Officer served as an alternate Commission member.

The report makes 148 recommendations covering seven key themes:

  • Urgent new approaches to address the wildfire crisis
  • Supporting collaboration to improve partner involvement
  • Shifting from reactive to proactive in planning for, mitigating and recovering from fire
  • Enabling beneficial fire to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire
  • Supporting and expanding the workforce to hire and retain the wildland firefighting staff needed to address the crisis
  • Modernizing tools for informed decision-making to better leverage available technology and information
  • Investing in resilience through increased spending now to reduce costs in the long run

Read the full report.

Next steps are in development, with an open session on the report planned for the first quarter of 2024. To stay up to date on the work of Washington’s Energy Resilience and Emergency Management Office, visit the EREMO website.

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