WASHINGTON - Oregon's entire House delegation applauded Thursday the inclusion of emergency funding for wildland fire suppression in the supplemental appropriations bill just passed by the House.
Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04), along with Reps. Greg Walden (OR-02), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), and Kurt Schrader (OR-05) have repeatedly urged House leaders to include funding for the US Forest Service in the wake of massive fires that have burned nearly 700,000 acres across Oregon. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has announced that Fiscal Year 2017 has been the most expensive firefighting year on record.
“I’m happy to see Congress acknowledge the pressing need for additional funding for wildfire suppression in one of the worst fire seasons in decades,” said Rep. DeFazio. “We must take steps to ensure the USFS and Department of Interior have the funding they need, such as considering wildfires to be natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes. Without such steps, the destructive cycle of fire-borrowing will only continue.”
“I am proud to have worked with the administration and my colleagues in the Oregon delegation to secure this much-needed funding to cover the cost of devastating wildfires across our state and much of the West,” said Rep. Walden. As another fire season raged on, once again, the Forest Service needed to rob money from important fire prevention work to pay for fighting wildfires. This bill replenishes those accounts to pay for the cost of this fire season, but it is past time that we fix how we pay for fires and treat them like the natural disasters they are. It’s also past time for Congress to fix federal forest policy and address the underlying issues leading to catastrophic fires that choke our skies and communities with smoke each summer.”
“Spurred by climate change, we’ve witnessed millions of acres in the West exploding in out-of-control wildfires—touching Oregon’s own beloved Columbia Gorge,” said Rep. Blumenauer. “The House took a step in the right direction by approving much-needed funding to help those communities affected. More must be done, however, to end fire-borrowing and make sure agencies have the resources they need.”
“The wildfires this season have been devastating to Oregon. They have destroyed large portions of forestland, reduced air quality across the state, and left a lasting mark on many communities,” said Congresswoman Bonamici. “I thank all of the firefighters and first responders who worked endless hours to keep Oregonians safe. I’m pleased that Congress is working together to increase funding for fighting fires, and hope we can finally put an end to the practice of fire-borrowing.”
“Fixing the way we pay for wildfire suppression and prevention has been one of my legislative priorities since coming into federal office over eight years ago,” said Congressman Schrader. “For the past three Congresses, I’ve introduced a bipartisan bill to put an end to the practice of fire-borrowing. I am very pleased that this disaster is receiving needed funding, and is being treated with the seriousness it deserves. We have a long way to go in the work to curb wildfires and the devastation they inflict, but securing this funding is an encouraging step forward.”