The road to wildfire recovery and prevention

Senator Jeff Merkley
2017-10-11 18:12:59
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Dear Unity,

In Oregon, catastrophic wildfires have burned over 600,000 acres of land -- and counting. Especially as we are seeing catastrophic wildfires continue in California, we have a lot more work to do to recover and move forward.

I  last week to urge my colleagues to support funding for the wildfire recovery and prevention that Oregon communities need. While it was a positive start that we were able to , we have so much more work to do to help our communities recover and reduce the risk of more devastating fires.

One necessary improvement is to end the practice of “fire borrowing,” in which the Forest Service has to raid other agency programs, such as fire prevention activities, to fund suppression costs. If we don’t fix this vicious cycle, then we’re going to have to continue to face increasingly disastrous wildfires that suck up greater and greater amounts of resources. We need to be providing the Forest Service with enough funding to adequately fight fires during wildfire season, without raiding other funds and programs -- and the best way to do that is to fund the biggest wildfires like the natural disasters they are.

We also need a surge in emergency funding: to help our communities recover; to restore scorched forest service infrastructure like trails, roads and bridges; and to make our forests more resistant to fires through forest thinning and hazardous fuels reduction.

I recently and we talked about the need to end fire borrowing and fight for a surge in emergency funding to both help our communities recover and prevent future fires. In Oregon, 1.6 million acres of forest are already approved for fuels reduction and thinning to make our forests more resistant to wildfire. I'm advocating for the funding to move forward quickly on this work.

Please know I’ll keep fighting to ensure Oregon has the necessary funds to recover from and prevent these devastating wildfires. Right now, our forests are time bombs, waiting to go off. It’s time to get serious about reducing their risk.

All my best,
Jeff

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