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Wyden Talks Rural Funding, Paying For Wildfires

Desmond O'Boyle

While in Eugene last week, Oregon U.S. Senator Ron Wyden spoke with KLCC's Desmond O'Boyle about funding for rural parts of the state and the rising costs of fighting wildfires.

Senator Wyden has worked to renew The Secure Rural Schools Act several times, most recently in 2013. The Act ensures funding to rural areas not collecting the timber revenue at the rate they once did. Oregon's share of the Secure Rural Schools Act is more than 2 billion dollars annually. Wyden says as far as providing financial assistance to the State, this is a very important bill.

Wyden: "I'm working with Congressman DeFazio, the governor, I think our whole delegation is very much of the view that we can come up with a way to sustainably boost the harvest in southwestern Oregon, create jobs in hard-hit rural communities, and protect our treasures."

Wyden also plans to work during the upcoming lame duck session on legislation that will put a stop to "fire borrowing."

Wyden: "What happens now is when you have a big inferno that comes about as a result of years and years of neglect on the ground when you haven't done the thinning and the prevention. The bureaucracy borrows from the Prevention Fund in order to pout the fire out and the fire gets worse."

Senator Wyden says the 1% of extremely large wildfires should be financed through the federal disaster fund.