Senator Wyden Proposes Changes To Federal Wildfire Policy

Mar 5, 2015

Senator Ron Wyden met with leaders of several Oregon fire prevention agencies today (Thursday) in Springfield. He's proposed legislation he hopes will make their jobs easier, as they face another potentially dangerous fire season.

Senator Wyden speaks to fire protection experts at the BLM / Forest Service offices in Springfield.
Credit Karen Richards

With precipitation in the Willamette Basin currently at ten percent of normal, firefighters say they're doing work now they usually do in June. Senator Wyden is aware of the urgency. He and Idaho Republican Senator Mike Crapo have introduced a bill to classify mega-fires as natural disasters.

Wyden: "The biggest fires, say one or two percent, those would be fires we'd battle from the disaster fund. That way you wouldn't raid the prevention fund, and the budget office said that this would not even add new money to the federal budget."

Wyden says the disaster fund is the federal pool of money tapped for things like hurricanes and tornadoes. The money remaining in the prevention fund would pay for suppression efforts and help reduce the overall number of fires. Wyden hopes to get the bill passed as quickly as possible.