Udall claims 'clear victory' for Colorado as air tanker protest withdrawn
Modern air tankers coming online as state wildfire season heats up
A month ago the U.S. Forest Service announced a deal to use up to seven modern air tankers provided by five different companies for a period of up to 10 years. Neptune Aviation, reportedly a company not awarded one of the contracts, filed a protest.
Udall, an outspoken advocate for more federal firefighting resources after last summer’s massive and deadly Colorado wildfires, called for a federal override of the protest process – which could have pushed acquisition of the new tankers back to late August. Earlier this week, Colorado’s Front Range already saw its first wildfire – a 25-acre blaze near Evergreen.
On Friday, Neptune reportedly withdrew its protest, clearing the way for the new tankers, according to Udall’s office.
“This is a clear victory for the people of Colorado and sends the unmistakable message that lives and homes are more important than dollars and cents,” Udall said in a news release. “I am proud the contractor heeded my repeated calls to allow the U.S. Forest Service to move forward with these critical next-generation air tanker contracts.
“This decision will allow the U.S. Forest Service to start replacing its outdated, Korean War-era air tankers with the tools is needs to protect communities and fight modern mega-fires.”
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