LAS VEGAS (AP) — Governors from several Western states told federal officials Thursday they are prepared to take on more responsibility for fighting wildfires.
During the annual winter meeting of the Western Governors Association on Thursday, state leaders told officials from the Bureau of Land Management and the Department of Agriculture they recognize times are tight and they plan to spend more of their own resources fighting fires in their states.
“This is not just a federal issue, it’s a state issue, and the states need to be involved heavily in it, not just in policy but in terms of financial support,” said Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead. “We’re willing to try new things. That’s what states are good at. Not that we can’t mess them up, but we can fix them when they do.”
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said he recognizes the number of available firefighting planes is on the decline. He said he was interested in building a fleet of aerial support resources in Colorado.
The association, established in 1984, aims to help state leaders share ideas, concerns and approaches to dealing with issues unique to the West. It includes governors from 19 states in the West, as well as Guam and American Samoa, but only a handful of leaders attended the conference. Along with Hickenlooper and Mead, the governors at the conference were Brian Sandoval, of Nevada; C.L. “Butch” Otter, of Idaho; Steve Bullock, of Montana; and Gary Herbert, of Utah.