September 9, 1988
Today I have signed S. 2641, the "Temporary Emergency Wildfire Suppression Act.'' In practical terms, this legislation will facilitate assistance from Canada in fighting the current wildfires in the western United States. This important and much needed legislation authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to enter into reciprocal agreements with foreign fire organizations for mutual aid in wildfire protection. Specifically, this allows us to bring in needed equipment and personnel from our Canadian neighbors to help combat these wildfires.
Just yesterday, I directed the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior, with participation from the Secretary of Defense, to survey the fire-fighting areas and report back to me as soon as possible with a plan to help control this critical situation.
The 1988 forest fire season is among the worst ever experienced by this Nation. Over 68,000 fires have burned over 3.8 million acres of forest and rangelands. Drought conditions are particularly severe throughout the forests and rangelands of the West, and more fires are expected until significant amounts of rain or snow are received.
The Greater Yellowstone Area, including Yellowstone National Park and surrounding National Forests, has been particularly hard hit. Other areas of Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and California are also experiencing major wildfire problems. Over 30 major fires affecting some 1.7 million acres remain uncontrolled today.
The large number of fires has severely taxed fire-fighting forces from the Federal natural resource agencies, the Army, the National Guard, State forestry agencies, forest industries, and others. Thousands of fire fighters have been on the lines for over 3 months.
I applaud the leadership and members of both the House and Senate for their rapid passage of this emergency legislation. I will take every action possible to control the remaining fires and prepare for the fires that may yet come.
The White House,
September 9, 1988.
Note: S. 2641, approved September 9, was assigned Public Law No. 100 - 428.