Feinstein, Harris to USDA: Don’t Remove Wildfire Planes from Service in California

Washington August 31, 2018 – Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris (both D-Calif.) called on the Trump administration to not remove two U.S. Forest Service C-130 aircraft from California. The two planes, which are currently being used to fight wildfires in the state, will eventually be transferred to Cal Fire.

“California is in the middle of another catastrophic fire year,” the senators wrote. “In this year alone, wildfires have already burned 1.2 million acres and destroyed nearly 1,500 homes, and it is not even September. These aircraft should remain actively engaged in California as we approach the historically most active months of the fire year.” 

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            Full text of the letter follows:

August 30, 2018

The Honorable Sonny Perdue

Secretary of Agriculture

United States Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, D.C. 20250

 

Dear Secretary Perdue:

We write to strongly urge the Forest Service to continue operating two HC-130H firefighting aircraft in California through the end of the calendar year.

California is in the middle of another catastrophic fire year. In this year alone, wildfires have already burned 1.2 million acres and destroyed nearly 1,500 homes, and it is not even September. Air assets are a crucial part of not only stopping fires early, but they are vital to containing fires that have broken control. Therefore, we ask that you keep the current Modular Airborne Firefighting System-equipped aircraft in California and available for flying suppression missions for the rest of the calendar year.

The John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (Public Law 115-232) authorizes the transfer of seven HC-130H aircraft to the State of California for firefighting purposes. Two of these seven aircraft are currently in use in California by the Forest Service. While they will eventually be outfitted with a gravity retardant delivery system, there is no need to pull these two aircraft from California’s front lines for many months. Instead, these aircraft should remain actively engaged in California as we approach the historically most active months of the fire year.

Given the continuing threat of catastrophic wildfires in California, we ask that you continue operating the two HC-130H aircraft in California to ensure that every asset is available to protect lives and property. Thank you for considering our request.

Sincerely,

Dianne Feinstein

United States Senator

 

Kamala D. Harris

United States Senator