USDA, Interior tapped for new interagency subcabinet to more effectively manage wildfires

After wildfires ravaged the West Coast in 2020, scorching millions of acres of land and damaging businesses and crops, including countless farms and businesses in the cannabis industry, the U.S. departments of Agriculture and Interior will lead a new Interagency Wildland Fire Subcabinet, focused on wildfire management.

According to the USDA, the Executive Order on Establishing the Wildfire Management Policy Committee will open communication channels “to ensure better forest management effectiveness” between federal agencies and departments.

In response, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said while the USDA has worked to “promote active management and reduce hazardous fuels” to save forests and grasslands, more can be done.

“With the establishment of a subcabinet dedicated exclusively to wildland fire management, we will be better equipped to prevent and fight wildfires, ensuring these national treasures will continue to be enjoyed by future generations of Americans,” Perdue said in an agency statement.

The executive order will set U.S. policy to:

  • Improve coordination among agencies on wildland fire management policy, implementation and oversight issues.
  • Reduce redundancies and duplication in the federal government by coordinating and consolidating existing wildland fire related councils, working groups and formal cross-agency initiatives.
  • Manage preparedness resources, initial attack response, extended attack and large fire support and hazardous fuels at a cross-boundary, landscape scale.
  • Promote integrated planning and procurement among agencies for federal investments in wildland fire management infrastructure.
  • Support workforce development and efforts to recruit, train, and retain federal wildland firefighters to respond to wildfire on public lands, and protect life, property and community infrastructure.