In 2021, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) (Pub.L. 117-58) created the federal Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission to make recommendations to improve federal policies related to the prevention, mitigation, suppression, and management of wildland fires in the United States and the rehabilitation of land in the United States devastated by wildland fires.
Among its charges, the legislation tasked the Commission with developing a strategy for meeting aerial equipment needs through the year 2030. The Commission took on this task as an opportunity to look expansively at thenation’s resources and strategies for wildland fire aviation, and produced the following recommendations that attempt to set aviation management on a new trajectory for the next decade and beyond.
In developing these recommendations, the Commission also sought to address several key themes: the need to develop an overarching, forward-looking aviation strategy that drives procurement, rather than letting aviation approaches become constrained by current practices; the need to invest in both technology and people to build an aviation fleet that meets long-term demand; and the need to take an inclusive approach to the range of functions aerial resources can serve and the range of entities that must be included in development of a truly national– rather than federal – aviation strategy.