Utah will soon see increased funding to help reduce wildfire risk and strengthen wildfire resilience efforts across the state. As a firefighter working in Utah, I’m thankful to see these investments making their way to our state in order to help protect local communities from catastrophic wildfires.
According to a recent announcement by the USDA Forest Service, both the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest and the Pine Valley area of the Dixie National Forest are set to receive increased funding to build out critical infrastructure that will help reduce the risk and impact of wildfires in those regions. Not only will these investments help prevent the kind of widespread destruction major wildfires can cause, they will also help local fire departments better preserve their resources while potentially saving lives.
Importantly, these investments in wildfire resilience and management were made possible thanks to the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which Sen. Mitt Romney helped craft and pass. As a Utahn and a firefighter, I’m extremely grateful to see increased funding for this critical role. During my time with both a federal and municipal crew, I’ve seen crews with ample funding and others with a severe lack of funding. With Utah’s sharp incline in population and infrastructure, increased funding to help bolster Utah’s wildfire readiness is long overdue and is critical to ensure the safety of the residents of the state.
Wildfires have become an increasingly large safety and health concern in Utah and throughout the Western United States. The investments from the infrastructure law will help us better manage and mitigate the threats wildfires pose to communities across the state and throughout the country.
Will Visser is a wildland firefighter in Utah. In high school, his heroes Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir inspired him to follow his dream of being a firefighter. Coming from a household of first-generation Greek Americans, he was instilled with a deep sense of pride in family, culture and hard work. He is proud to serve the state of Utah in this role.