Perlmutter Amendment to Expand National Science Foundation’s Wildfire Risk and Resilience Passes House


Washington, D.C.
– Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2225, the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the Future Act, the five-year reauthorization of the National Science Foundation, which included an amendment from U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) to enhance wildfire research. Perlmutter’s amendment will ensure NSF’s risk and resilience research focuses on wildfire science and the impact wildfires have on air quality, human behavior, and how to improve early detection.

“I’m glad to see this amendment move forward as we work to continue to strengthen wildfire science and research across all federal agencies,” said Congressman Perlmutter. “It’s more important than ever we improve our understanding of wildfires so we can better prepare for and mitigate the effects of wildfires to protect peoples’ lives, their homes, and our natural resources.” 

“We have to move from an emergency mindset to a resilience mindset,” said Jennifer Balch, Director of Earth Lab at the University of Colorado Boulder. “We are grateful to Congressman Perlmutter for ensuring NSF expands on existing wildfire science in its risk and resilience work. An investment like this is critical and overdue, as millions of people, homes and critical infrastructure are at risk right now. We need multidisciplinary wildfire science to help us build pathways to live with more fire.”

The number of people moving to Colorado and to fire-prone areas, specifically, continues to grow. In 2020, Colorado experienced the three largest wildfires in the state’s history, making it the worst wildfire season on record In 2018, the Colorado State Forest Service estimated about half the state’s population, nearly 3 million people, lived in places where homes are built in or near areas that are prone to wildland fire. In April 2021, the Director of the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control warned Colorado’s fire seasons have expanded by 78 days, remarking Colorado is “having fire years, not fire seasons anymore.”

Perlmutter’s amendment was cosponsored by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (CA-19).  In March 2021, Perlmutter and Lofgren led 46 Members of Congress in urging the Biden Administration to include at least $200 million for wildfire science in its FY 2022 budget. 

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