Washington State lawmakers seek public assistance for Colville Confederated Tribes

U.S. Reps. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) this week urged President Joe Biden to approve a Major Disaster Declaration for the Colville Confederated Tribes (CCT) to make public assistance available.

Specifically, the CCT needs to have debris removed, roads and bridges rebuilt, and recovery efforts addressed on the Colville Indian Reservation following this year’s extreme wildfires, according to a Nov. 29 letter the lawmakers sent to the president.

“Due to the severity and magnitude of the disaster and damages, the CCT has requested assistance from all categories within the Public Assistance Program,” wrote Reps. Newhouse and McMorris Rodgers. “We are in full support of this request and ask that it receive full and fair consideration.”

The Colville Indian Reservation sustained damage from five uncontrolled fires that burned between July and September, according to their letter, which noted that the Chuweah Creek and Summit Trail Fires grew quickly and merged with smaller fires. Once finally contained, another storm system passed through the region and ignited additional blaze on reservation lands. 

And despite mutual aid response from surrounding districts, the CCT lost major power and communications infrastructure, primary homes, outbuildings, and vehicles and equipment, the members wrote, with much of the reservation now at risk of flooding and erosion.

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