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Biden Visits Western States To Talk Fire, Infrastructure

President Joe Biden flew into Boise, Idaho on Monday as the first of several stops around the West to talk wildfires, climate change and his infrastructure plan.

Upon landing, Biden went directly to the National Interagency Fire Center, which is a hub for agencies to coordinate over wildfires. Biden was the first presidential visitor in its 50-year history.

Grant Beebe of the Bureau of Land Management told Biden the massive, destructive fires we’re increasingly facing are costly.

“In wildland fire, there’s no one community, agency, (or) Tribal organization that has enough resources to manage all of its fires,” he said.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little urged Biden to help bolster resilience in forest ecosystems and limit lawsuits from people who are affected by wildfire management tactics. He also thanked Biden for efforts to put out fires faster, as opposed to earlier policies that let some rural fires burn.

“Thank you for asking these men and women in our firefighting to get on the fires early given the incredible drought in the West,” he said.

For his part, Biden praised firefighters and noted the recent raises he helped secure for federal firefighters. He also said he’ll work with western governors on next steps, and spoke of his infrastructure plan, which has some bipartisan support in the region.

“It literally provides for billions of dollars for wildfire preparedness, resilience and response forest management and public water sources,” Biden said.

Of course, many western Republicans disagree with Biden’s infrastructure plan (including those from Montana and Wyoming), even if Republican Senators like Jim Rich and Mike Crapo in Idaho and Mitt Romney in Utah have signed on.

And protesters in Boise were critical of everything from the president’s handling of Afghanistan to COVID-19 vaccines.

Biden is also visiting California and Colorado to talk about wildfires and his “Build Back Better” infrastructure plan.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Nevada Public Radio, Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2021 Boise State Public Radio News. To see more, visit Boise State Public Radio News.

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