Interior secretary talks drought, wildfires on Western visit
DENVER (AP) — Interior Secretary Deb Haaland is visiting Denver on Thursday to address the federal government's response to a historic drought as the U.S. West battles massive wildfires and record heat waves.
Haaland and Tanya Trujillo, the department’s assistant secretary for water and science, planned to meet with Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette, Gov. Jared Polis and Jim Lochhead, CEO of Denver Water, Colorado’s largest water agency, for a discussion on the region’s drought and possible federal solutions.
The American West is gripped by the worst drought in modern history, including most of western Colorado. The northern part of the state is experiencing deadly flash flooding and mudslides after rain fell in areas scarred by massive wildfires last year. Fires are burning across the West, most severely in Oregon and California, while the drought stresses major waterways like the Colorado River and reservoirs that sustain millions of people.
The drought and recent heat waves in the region that are tied to climate change have made wildfires harder to fight. Climate change has made the West much warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires larger and more destructive.
Haaland’s three-day stay in Colorado includes her first trip Friday to the Bureau of Land Management’s new headquarters in Grand Junction, established by the Trump administration in 2019. The agency's move from Washington, D.C., produced an outcry from critics who said it gutted the office. Haaland opposed the move as a member of Congress.
The agency overseen by the Interior Department manages nearly 250 million acres of public lands, most of which are in the West. Polis and Colorado’s congressional delegation have urged Haaland to keep the office in...