Washington, DCToday, Congressman John Curtis, Deputy Republican Leader of the National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Subcommittee on the House Natural Resources Committee, released the following statement after introducing the Wildfire and Community Health Response Act of 2020 with Representative Joe Neguse (D-CO).

The bipartisan bill aims to support the health of firefighters and emergency response teams and mitigate the impact of wildfires on vulnerable communities by requiring a report to Congress outlining actions taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, protect the respiratory health of local communities, and guard against future wildfire.

“As we address the COVID-19 pandemic, our land management agencies must ensure that wildland firefighters are healthy and ready to respond to the upcoming fire season, while also taking steps to minimize wildfire risk for the coming months,” said Congressman Curtis. “Our Wildfire and Community Health Response Act will require both the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to report on how they are simultaneously accomplishing these goals and protecting our communities from a pandemic and wildfire disaster happening back to back. I am glad to see the agencies are already taking steps to protect both firefighters and the land and I look forward to continuing to work with the Administration as well as my colleagues, such as Mr. Neguse, to protect our communities.

The legislation directs the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior to jointly report to Congress on their efforts during the pandemic to mitigate future wildfire risk through fuels reduction methods and identify the steps being taken to slow the spread of COVID-19 among emergency response personnel. Additionally, the report shall offer recommendations from the Secretaries as to what Federal support is required to successfully support these activities.