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Federal Funds Sought For Fighting Bigger, Hotter Wildfires

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Increased funding and more modernized firefighting tools are being sought by a group of bipartisan senators, including Oregon’s. As KLCC’s Brian Bull reports, this push is being driven by increasingly hotter and larger wildfires.

Bipartisanship on Capitol Hill hasn’t totally gone up in flames. But without heavier tools like air tankers and water-scoopers, politicians fear their state’s forests just might.

Oregon Democratic Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley have joined Idaho Republican Mike Crapo in a call to write both the Senate Committee on Appropriations and the U.S. Forest Service. 

Wyden says it’s to make sure the next fiscal year includes funds for fighting more intensive wildfires.

“We’ve also pushed to have the government speed up the reduction of hazardous fuels, which really are a magnet for fire," Wyden tells KLCC. "And air tankers are also a significant component of an effective strategy to fight fire, and that’s what I’ve teamed up with Republicans on.”

No specific dollar amount is in the letters. National Fire Incident Center data shows that while the number of wildfires this year is below the 10-year average, the acreage burned is greater…by just over 2 million.

Copyright 2018, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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