© 2024 | Jefferson Public Radio
Southern Oregon University
1250 Siskiyou Blvd.
Ashland, OR 97520
541.552.6301 | 800.782.6191
Listen | Discover | Engage a service of Southern Oregon University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Bill Would Fix Wildfire Funding Problem And Increase Logging

A bill that would make big changes to how the federal government pays to fight wildfire passed the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday.

Currently, if firefighting costs exceed their budgeted amount – as they have done often in recent years – federal agencies have to borrow from fire prevention programs. Under the new Republican-backed legislation, the government could treat fire more like a hurricane or tornado and apply for emergency funds through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This kind of fix has broad support.

But the bill also contains more controversial provisions that would change the rules for how federal forests are treated after a wildfire. On a conference call with reporters, Congressman Greg Walden of Oregon said those changes are crucial.

“We see these catastrophic fires every year, devouring our budgets, devouring our forests, devouring our communities… These are devastating all the way around. We’ll always have them, but if we can get the forests back into shape, they won’t be as destructive,” he said.

The bill would make it easier to push salvage logging projects through. It would also make it more difficult to use the court system to challenge timber sales and forest policies.

These strategies could be sticking points for the legislation in the Senate.

Oregon Democrats Peter DeFazio and Kurt Schrader voted for the bill. Washington’s Republican representatives also supported the legislation.

Copyright 2020 EarthFix. To see more, visit .

Fire scorched thousands of acres of Bureau of Land Management timber in 2013.
Oregon Bureau of Land Management / Flickr /
Fire scorched thousands of acres of Bureau of Land Management timber in 2013.

Jes Burns is a reporter for OPB's Science & Environment unit. Jes has a degree in English literature from Duke University and a master's degree from the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communications.