The fight for wildfire recovery and prevention

Senator Jeff Merkley
2017-11-13 16:30:06
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Dear Unity,

As Congress continues to debate legislation aiding communities struck by natural disasters, I am fighting to make sure Oregon and other western states scorched by wildfire get the help they deserve.

I led a group of 10 western Senators in strongly urging President Donald Trump and Senate leaders to include funding for wildfire disaster response. We pressed for $200 million for the Forest Service to restore and repair public lands and infrastructure damaged by wildfire. A lack of funding could jeopardize essential work like the removal of hazardous trees for public safety; road and trail maintenance; restoring vegetation in watersheds; and rehabilitating wildlife and fish habitat. If we fail to address the damage head on, recovery will only cost more in the future.

We also called for a $580 million investment in thinning and other forest management to reduce fire-prone fuels and get ahead of future fires before the U.S. faces another devastating fire season. On Forest Service land alone, 78 million acres are designated as moderate to high risk of severe wildfires. If we do not act quickly to fund the treatment of fire-prone areas, the costs to fight and recover from these extreme fires will continue to grow.

Wildfires have upended too many of our communities, and we must act now to rebuild. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will continue to fight for more funding to help Oregon recover following this disastrous fire year and reduce the risk of fire in future years.

All my best,
Jeff

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