Cantwell, McMorris Rodgers Hold Fire Roundtable to Identify Solutions for Rural Communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. –– Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and U.S. Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) convened a roundtable of local stakeholders in Spokane to discuss lessons learned from this summer’s wildland fires in the Washington state.

With the end of the worst wildfire seasons in Washington state history and more than 1 million acres burned, the senator and congresswoman discussed strategies for combating and preventing wildland fires in the bipartisan roundtable. Local community leaders, firefighters, first responders, elected officials, and business owners participated in the bipartisan roundtable.

The discussion included ways to increase collaboration between county, state and federal agencies; the immediate needs of communities; how to improve the underlying health of forests; and long-term goals for fire preparation, prevention and suppression.

"We want our citizens here in Eastern Washington to know we are all partners, working together to make sure that when the next fire season comes around, we are going to be better prepared to fight these fires," Sen. Cantwell said. "We certainly want to stop fire borrowing, but we want to make sure we are doing the work in advance – the fuel reduction and modernizations that will help us be better prepared for the future."

“This summer was the one we feared. We experienced huge loss and damage across Eastern Washington, and we will be working for years to recover," McMorris Rodgers said. "Unfortunately, 13 of the last 15 years have been the most extensive wildfires in our country’s history. We must act now to do all we can to prevent this from happening again next summer."