NEWHOUSE ... "I am expecting to see some steps being taken in this omnibus bill as regards to wildfires and forest service's ability to respond."
And right on cue, the bill allocates nearly $2-billion dollars for wildfire suppression which includes fighting the fires and forest management. But, elated as he is, Newhouse warns this is not a simple fix ...
NEWHOUSE ... "Whether or not that translates exactly into where we need to be, as far as preparation overnight, the answer is no. Some of these reforms will take some time to put into place so that we have more healthy forests in order to be able to withstand some of these fires that we have every summer. And that's going to take some time to get our forests back into shape."
Newhouse says in the meantime, the weather appears to be cooperating ...
NEWHOUSE ... "The good thing is we have a pretty healthy snowpack in the Northwest right now. So, that should be conducive to extending when we have to worry about fires, but also with that extra moisture that will bring undergrowth and a lot of fuel for fires as well, so we do have to be prepared."
Newhouse says the fire funding secures stable funding for fighting wildfires, without harming other federal programs that benefit forests. It also includes reasonable provisions to expedite forest management that will make forests more resilient to fire and other threats.
Also included in the budget was $1 billion for rural water infrastructure, and $600 million for rural broadband.