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Legislation Making Its Way Through Congress Will Greatly Help Battle Arizona’s Wildfires

Mark Kelly

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The Energy Infrastructure Act passed through the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Thursday in Washington, DC. Arizona Senator Mark Kelly is on the committee and was a “yes” vote. The bipartisan bill would authorize nearly six-billion dollars for forest management programs. It includes $20-million for the Ecological Restoration Institute at Northern Arizona University to help the U.S. Forest Service improve its planning and implementation of forest restoration projects. NAU President José Luis Cruz Rivera says “NAU is uniquely positioned to utilize this funding to assist federal land management partners in need of additional capacity to assess, plan for, and monitor wildfire prevention and forest restoration treatments across the West.” In the bill also includes $600-million that would go to pay raises and additional hiring of wildland firefighters. $300-million is earmarked to establish a working capital fund that will help cover contract costs associated with restoration projects like 4FRI. Also, $20-million would to a program to use satellite data for detection of early wildfire starts. Senator Kelly says, “this summer, more acres have burned in Arizona than in any other state to date.” He adds, “this legislation will help restore Arizona forests and enable our state to better prepare for, fight, and recover from wildfires.”