Tipton Highlights Importance of New Technology as Wildfire Season Approaches

Tipton speaking to audience and panelists at  UAS Capitol Hill Briefing.

Washington D.C.—Today, Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-3) cohosted a panel discussion with Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09) focused on exploring the U.S. Forest Service’s use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to fight wildfires.

“While I maintain the best wildfire prevention methods begin with healthy forest management practices, many of which are included within the bill I introduced last year, we need to be looking at the feasibility and possibility of implementing unmanned aircraft systems into our firefighting capabilities,” Tipton said after the briefing. “While the integration of UAS into federal land management policy remains in a testing phase, I was encouraged to hear the panelists’ expertise on ways this technology can support personnel operating in hazardous conditions as well as elongate the surveillance capabilities needed to monitor wildfires or prescribed burns. Utilization of this technology, could substantially increase the ability to save forests from devastating fires, as well as identify road-less, high-risk areas before they become a problem.”

Read Tipton’s opening remarks at the Capitol Hill UAS Briefing below:

“This briefing is particularly timely as we approach wildfire season. Since 2000, over 74,000 wildfires have burned an average of 6.6 million acres annually. In 2015 alone, wildfires burned more than 10 million acres of federal land. 

“With this in mind there is significant interest in exploring the feasibility and efficacy of Unmanned Aircraft Systems in wildfire suppression efforts. UAS would significantly extend the hours that aerial support would be available for wildfire fighting efforts while reducing associated risk to fire-fighting personnel. 

“However, Congress and the FAA need to proceed cautiously as we integrate UAS into the national airspace. I am looking forward to hearing our panelists’ thoughts on how to integrate UAS into our firefighting arsenal while ensuring that we are not jeopardizing the safety and security of our airspace.”

Background:

  • Last year, Tipton introduced H.R. 695: Healthy Forest Management and Wildfire Prevention Act which directly addresses the deterioration of America’s forest health, particularly in western states, by calling for greater identification of forest areas which have suffered significant damages from beetle kill or drought thereby increasing the susceptibility of wildfires.

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