President Biden didn’t invite Idaho’s governor to wildfire meeting

Idaho is one of the nation’s wildfire capitals.

By: - June 30, 2021 10:38 am
Wildfire

In the two decades leading up to 2016, Idaho had more acres burned in wildfires than any other state in the continental U.S., according to an Idaho Statesman analysis of federal wildfire data. (Photo courtesy of Ada County)

Idaho has among the worst wildfires in the nation. It is home to the National Interagency Fire Center, which coordinates wildland firefighting for the U.S. And experts predict this year’s droughts and record-high temperatures may bring more fires.

But as President Joe Biden hosts a meeting of Western governors today to talk about this year’s fire season, Idaho Gov. Brad Little will be missing from the table. Little was not invited, according to his office.

In the two decades leading up to 2016, Idaho had more acres burned in wildfires than any other state in the continental U.S., according to an Idaho Statesman analysis of federal wildfire data.

“While our states were not invited to participate in your meeting today, our states possess extensive experience and expertise in fighting wildfires, preventing them, and managing our forests,” Little and Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, both Republicans, told Biden in a letter Wednesday morning.


The letter suggests their lack of invitation from the White House may stem from disagreements about land and forest management, and fire prevention approaches.

“While Western states will spend the coming months fighting wildfires alongside federal partners on the ground, it is critical we have a federal partner in the White House who is willing to do what needs to be done year-round to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires. The federal government must work with states to actively and meaningfully manage our lands to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires,” the letter said.

“The benefits of active land management are clear: healthier forests, communities and lands safer from the risk of severe wildfires, improved wildlife habitat, more recreational opportunities, and more good-paying jobs,” it said.

According to the White House press office, those invited to the meeting include:

In-Person

  • Deb Haaland, Secretary of the Interior
  • Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture
  • Jennifer Granholm, Secretary of Energy
  • Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security
  • Michael Regan, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
  • Kathleen Hicks, Deputy Secretary of Defense
  • Gina McCarthy, Assistant to the President and National Climate Advisor
  • Liz Sherwood-Randall, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security

Virtual

  • Kate Brown, Governor of Oregon
  • Spencer Cox, Governor of Utah
  • Mark Gordon, Governor of Wyoming
  • Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington
  • Michelle Lujan Grisham, Governor of New Mexico
  • Gavin Newsom, Governor of California
  • Jared Polis, Governor of Colorado
  • Steve Sisolak, Governor of Nevada
  • Ron Klain, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff
  • Julie Rodriguez, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director for Intergovernmental Affairs
  • Caitlin Durkovich, Special Assistant to the President and NSC Senior Director for Resilience and Response
  • Deanne Criswell, Administrator of FEMA
  • Rick Spinrad, Administrator of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Shalanda Young, Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget
  • Vicki Christiansen, Chief of the U. S. Forest Service
  • John Hairston, CEO of Bonneville Power Administration
  • Pedro Pizarro, President and CEO of Edison International
  • Maria Pope, President and CEO of Portland General Electric, Chair of the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) CEO Wildfire Task Force, and Co-chair of the Electric Subsector Coordinating Council (ESCC) Wildfire Working Group
LETTER 210630 Pres Biden wildfires Govs Gianforte Little

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Audrey Dutton
Audrey Dutton

Audrey Dutton, senior investigative reporter, joined the Idaho Capital Sun after 10 years at the Idaho Statesman. Her favorite topics to cover include health care, business, consumer protection issues and white collar crime. Dutton hails from Twin Falls. She attended college at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, and received a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University in New York City. Before coming home to Idaho, Dutton worked as a journalist in Minnesota, New York, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Dutton's work has earned dozens of state, regional and national awards for investigative reporting, health care and business reporting, radio journalism, data visualization and much more.

MORE FROM AUTHOR