WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees funding for Military Construction, secured the approval of over $15 million for the Cibola National Forest Air Tanker Base (ATB) on Kirtland Air Force Base to upgrade facilitates to allow the use of Very Large Air Tankers (VLATs) to fight wildfires. Senator Heinrich secured this funding after engaging with Air Force leadership and the U.S. Forest Service.
“After working directly with both the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Forest Service, I’m proud to secure this funding that will strengthen federal responses to combat wildfires in New Mexico. As the climate crisis continues to elevate the severity of wildfire risks, these federal investments will be key in keeping our communities safer and our forests more resilient. I will continue to do everything possible to support our firefighters and local, state, and federal teams who are fighting the wildfires burning today. Together, we will rebuild in the aftermath of these fires and work to mitigate future devastation,” said Heinrich.
"Kirtland Air Force Base is pleased to work with the U.S. Forest Service to host this project. Our team members are proud to be a part of the community and have a personal interest in keeping them safe. Most especially in the current wildfire climate, Kirtland Air Force Base will remain a strong partner and contributor to the well-being of all communities of New Mexico and our neighboring states," said Col. Jason Vattioni, 377 Air Base Wing and Kirtland Installation Commander.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Air Force Nancy J. Balkus alerted Senator Heinrich of the funding for repairs that will consist of a full depth replacement of Apron A and taxi-lane, with three inches of asphalt concrete surface, three inches of asphalt concrete base and eight inches of aggregate base on compacted sub-grade.
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