Rep. Grier Hopkins crafts proactive strategy to reduce wildfire risks
Investment in fire break lines would help save Alaskan lives, property
JUNEAU – The committee crafting the budget for firefighting operations within the Alaska Department of Natural Resources unanimously adopted a proposal from Rep. Grier Hopkins (D-Fairbanks) earlier this week that allocates $5 million for the creation and maintenance of fire breaks and other fire risk reduction measures.
“Last year’s fire season was a record for Alaska. The hard work and dedication of local firefighters was essential to protecting our community from the Shovel Creek Fire in Goldstream Valley,” Representative Hopkins said. “Their success was assisted by the presence of fire break lines. By investing in these risk reduction measures, we give our fire professionals strategic advantages that can make the difference between containing a wildfire and risking whole neighborhoods and communities.”
Representative Hopkins’ amendment both provides funding to create and maintain fire breaks over the next two years and also directs the State of Alaska to develop a plan to allocate federal and insurance dollars paid to the state each year to reimburse firefighting costs. These funds will be used to create stable, predictable funding for future risk reduction efforts, putting rural fire crews and contractors to work developing and implementing protection plans for neighborhoods and communities.
“Fire breaks and other risk reduction measures were responsible for protecting over $850 million worth of private property last year,” Representative Hopkins added. “Today’s action will bring a new, forward-thinking dimension to Alaska’s wildfire response efforts.”
The budget proposal now heads to the full House Finance Committee for consideration.
Office of Representative Grier Hopkins