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Washington–Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and a group of their colleagues to urge Senate leadership to prioritize investing in hazardous fuels reduction to lower the risk of catastrophic wildfires. 

In the letter, the senators highlighted the millions of acres of forest that were decimated by increasingly severe wildfires. They urged Senate leadership to provide funding to help meet the estimated $20 billion required to reduce wildfire risk across the National Forest System in any further infrastructure legislation.

“Mitigating wildfires across our forests and rangelands is critical to protecting public health, sustaining rural economies, and saving lives,” the letter reads. “Already this year, almost 45,000 fires have burned more than 5.5 million acres. Last year, almost 60,000 fires burned over 10 million acres, the most on record. Over 10 million acres also burned in 2017 and 2015. It is clear that focusing on putting out the fires is not solving the problem alone, and must be coupled with reducing the fuel loads on the landscape and providing land managers with the resources they need for maintaining healthy forests and rangelands once they have been treated.”

In addition to Feinstein and Merkley, the letter was also signed by Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.).

Full text of the letter is available here.