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Wyden renews call for higher wildland firefighter pay

Andy Nelson
Register-Guard / pool
Fire crews work on the Holiday Farm Fire east of Springfield in September, 2020.

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden is renewing his call for federal wildland firefighters to get a pay raise.

Wyden, along with 14 other Senators and 13 House members, sent a letter this week to the Secretaries of the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture urging the agencies to work with the Office of Personnel Management to create a new pay scale for wildland firefighters.

"Years of low pay and other issues have hollowed out the federal wildland firefighting workforce," reads the letter. "This is an urgent threat to natural resources, public safety, and taxpayer dollars, as the Federal Government pays a premium to contract and borrow firefighting resources from state and local authorities when federal resources are unavailable."

The letter, also signed by Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Canby, notes that heading into the wildfire season, some regions have less than 75 percent of the needed crew members.

Wyden made a similar request to the Biden administration last fall.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”