Congresswoman Norma Torres, who represents California’s 35th Congressional District, recently pushed to pass an amendment to the National Landslide Preparedness Act.
“Many don’t know that wildfire activity increases the risk of landslides and flooding,” she said. “My amendment is a small addition to the National Landslide Preparedness Act, which simply states that we should also address and study potential landslides in relation to wildfires.”
Torres, who serves as the Ranking Member on the Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs, a subcommittee of the House Committee on Natural Resources, stressed how California has experienced a great deal of landslides that have crippled the state’s infrastructure, “from this year’s Mud Creek landslide to La Conchita’s 2005 mudslide that killed seven adults and three innocent children.”
Torres expressed her belief that by giving state and local governments the resources to identify burned areas that become susceptible to landslides post-wildfires, “we can begin to make the necessary plans to stop the next catastrophe.”
In addition to destroying property and upending lives, wildfires can also severely damage forest canopy and vegetation, both of which hold soil in place. The amendment championed by Torres will require that such areas be studied and analyzed.
This year, wildfires have damaged more than 15,000 structures, burned more than 234,000 acres of land, and left 46 people dead.
Torres said, “As our brave first responders continue to work around the clock, it’s our responsibility to start thinking about the aftermath of wildfires to help prevent future loss of life and property.”
Torres’s amendment was unanimously passed by the Natural Resources Committee in December. Her presentation is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01L1KxEjRFE&feature=youtu.be.