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Senate bill would enhance wildland firefighters’ situational awareness

by Bill Gabbert, Wildfire Today |

The U.S. Senate voted 92-8 Feb. 12 to approve the Natural Resources Management Act.

It directs the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture to implement systems that would enhance the situational awareness capability of wildland firefighters — knowing the real time location of a fire and the resources assigned. This will affect firefighters in five federal agencies: National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Forest Service.

A last-minute attempt by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to add an amendment authorizing the sale of some U.S. Forest Service land in his state was shot down.

The bill also includes numerous other actions related to public lands including creating more than 1.3 million acres of wilderness out West, adding three national park units, and expanding eight others.

Now the bill goes to the House of Representatives where it will likely be considered after the mid-February recess.