Statement from U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross
As Secretary of Commerce, today I directed the National Marine Fisheries Service to facilitate access to the water needed to fight the ongoing wildfires affecting the State of California. One of the fires, the Mendocino Complex Fire, has developed into the largest in the state’s history, consuming nearly 300,000 acres in Northern California. American lives and property are at stake and swift action is needed. The Department of Commerce is doing everything possible to help, with NOAA satellites providing vital weather information and National Weather Service employees providing on the scene information to fire officials.
Directive Issued by Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross
The California wildfires are a direct threat to life and property and all measures available must be taken to protect both. Today, I direct NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service to make clear to all its Federal agency partners that the protection of life and property takes precedence over any current agreements regarding the use of water in the areas of California affected by wildfires. Public safety is the first priority. Consistent with the emergency consultation provisions under the ESA, Federal agencies may use any water as necessary to protect life and property in the affected areas. Based on this directive, NOAA will facilitate the use of water for this emergency. Going forward, the Department and NOAA are committed to finding new solutions to address threatened and endangered species in the context of the challenging water management situation in California.