Oregon Members Urge Wildfire Assistance in Hurricane Harvey Emergency Spending Bill
Reps. Kurt Schrader (OR-05), Peter DeFazio (OR-04), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Greg Walden (OR-02), and Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01) today sent a letter to House leaders requesting that emergency funding for wildland fire suppression be included in the Hurricane Harvey emergency supplemental appropriations bill the House will take up later this week.
The United States Forest Service (USFS) is expected to exhaust its funding for wildfire suppression within days. Dangerous wildfires have forced thousands of Oregonians to evacuate their homes and businesses and degraded air quality has caused serious health issues across Oregon.
Currently, Oregon’s Chetco Bar fire has consumed more than 167,000 acres. It is estimated that the Chetco fire will not be contained until the end of October. To make matters worse, there are 23 other Oregon fires, including the Eagle Creek fire now threatening the Portland metro area and Columbia River Gorge communities. In total, these fires have burned over 340,000 acres to date.
The lawmakers write,
“Thousands of people have been evacuated, and homes and businesses have been destroyed. It is likely the USFS will exhaust all funding for wildfire suppression within days. Once that occurs, the agency is forced to borrow from other USFS accounts to pay for wildland fire suppression. Often the accounts that are depleted fund the very activities that help reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires, creating a vicious cycle.”To view a PDF version of the letter, click here.