Legislators push for passage of Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act

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SANTA FE, N.M. — Victims of the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire could be getting more help.

New Mexico Reps. Teresa Leger Fernández and Melanie Stansbury, joined by representatives from Western states, announced the Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act – a package of nearly 50 bills to address the two major issues.

“The bill is like a gentle monsoon rain falling on our parched landscape,” Leger Fernández said. “It brings both hope and solutions.”

Bills included in the package would boost assistance for wildfire victims, including the hundreds of people who lost homes, businesses and ranches in the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire. It would also require wildland firefighters to get paid at least $20 an hour.

Leger Fernández also read the names of the four Bernalillo County first responders – Lt. Fred Beers, Undersheriff Larry Koren, Deputy Michael Levison and Rescue Specialist Matthew King – who lost their lives in a helicopter crash after fighting a wildfire near Las Vegas earlier this month.

“We honor their legacy by improving the working conditions for their colleagues,” Leger Fernández said. “Our fighters stand strong and steady, they fight to protect our communities, but they deserve a better wage because it isn’t enough to just say thank you. We must pay them what they deserve and this bill does that for our wildland firefighters.”