One month after he was excluded from White House meetings on wildfire prevention and response, Idaho Gov. Brad Little will join President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday to discuss extreme heat, drought and fire conditions in the West.
According to White House officials, Little will join the Biden administration virtually on Friday as federal officials establish two working groups — on wildfire resilience and extreme heat response — and hear updates on the West’s tragic ongoing fire season. Other attendees will include governors from Oregon, Minnesota, Wyoming, Washington and California.
Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, who was also left out of last month’s discussion and joined Little in sending an open letter to the president, will participate.
The meeting comes as nearly 1.7 million acres of U.S. land have already burned this year, according to statistics from the Boise-based National Interagency Fire Center.
White House officials said the wildfire resilience group will be led by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, while the group addressing extreme heat will be led by Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, NOAA Administrator Dr. Richard Spinrad and EPA Administrator Michael Regan.
The groups aim to address forest management activities such as prescribed burning and forest thinning, as well as resources to protect vulnerable communities from extreme heat — like the record-breaking temperatures that have blistered the West for weeks at a time this summer.