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Merkley Calling For Firefighting Resources
Following this year’s record-breaking wildfires, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley is calling on Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell to ensure that there are sufficient resources available for firefighting through the end of the wildfire season. Due to the high number of fires this summer, the U.S. Forest Service has already exhausted its fire suppression fund for the year and may be forced to divert funding from core functions such as managing timber sales.
“Because the U.S. Forest Service has now run out of money in the fire suppression fund, it has no option other than to transfer money from other accounts to cover the costs of fire fighting,” Merkley wrote in a letter to the leaders. “This means that core functions of the Forest Service will take an even greater budget cut than they already faced this fiscal year. These transfers will have an especially dramatic impact in Oregon because the Forest Service is already struggling to advance timber projects due to tightened budgets.
“We cannot leave our rural communities without firefighting resources, but we also must ensure that the Forest Service can continue to manage forests that sustain local economies.”
In Oregon alone, 697 fires have burned over 1,240,000 acres of land, including the largest Oregon wildfire since the 1840s.