Congressmembers call for post-fire disaster relief for Colville tribes

A helicopter attack on the August 2021 Bulldog Mountain Fire north of Kettle Falls, which burned more than 5,000 acres on the Colville Confederated Tribes reservation.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Eastern Washington’s two Congressional representatives sent a letter Monday to President Joe Biden, urging a disaster declaration for the Colville Indian Reservation.

Last summer’s major wildfires scorched reservation lands and left them vulnerable to flooding and landslides this winter. Dan Newhouse (R-4th District) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-5th) say the president’s approval would release federal funds to remove debris, protect from floods and landslides, and repair roads, bridges, water systems and other public facilities affected by the fires.

“The damage sustained is beyond the capacity of the CCT to address on its own,” the congressmembers wrote. “[We] request that the CCT’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration and aid from Public Assistance Programs receive full and fair consideration.”

Both districts include portions of the Colville lands within their boundaries. Biden issued a similar wildfire disaster designation last February for the Colville tribes and nine eastern Washington counties, including Douglas and Okanogan.