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Oregon delegation presses new FS chief on wildfire support

Oregon’s Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader and Greg Walden on Friday pressed the new chief of the U.S. Forest Service for full cooperation in bringing much-needed resources to wildfire-ravaged communities across Oregon.

In a letter to Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke, the Oregon lawmakers stressed the need for the agencies, the administration and Congress to come together to battle the catastrophic fires burning across Oregon and the West.

“When it comes to national forest management in Oregon, we need the full attention of the administration, including the full cooperation of the U.S. Forest Service,” the lawmakers wrote.

“We are actively pursuing funding for the U.S. Forest Service in any bill before Congress intended to help communities recover from Hurricane Harvey and other natural disasters. We look to you to help us hone those requests and make them as targeted as possible to help our communities and our lands recover from this soon-to-be record-setting fire year.”

Last week, Congress passed legislation that will provide emergency funding to fight wildfires as part of a broader bill to provide disaster aid and fund the government through Dec. 8.

The legislation will also make it possible starting October 1 for the Forest Service to quickly repay funds it will need to borrow in the coming weeks to continue fighting the nearly 1.5 million acres of land currently burning in nine western states. Almost one-third of those acres are in Oregon.

Read the full letter here


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