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Oregon Senator Ron Wyden Discusses Upcoming High-Risk Fire Season

Sydney Dauphinais / JPR News
Senator Ron Wyden stands outside the Medford Interagency Office Tuesday morning, alongside staff from the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service.

During a visit to Southern Oregon Tuesday morning, Senator Ron Wyden announced he will prioritize planning and fire-safety for what is expected to be an extreme fire season.

Speaking in front of an office in Medford that houses federal land management agencies, Wyden said local agencies are doing great work to prepare for wildfire emergencies, but they shouldn’t have to do that alone.

“I believe the federal government oughta be a better and smarter partner in terms of assisting those efforts," said Wyden. "So I’m going to follow the counsel of these good people on making sure that there’s the federal help to assist with those kinds of efforts, because those aren’t abstract questions. They’re life and death.”

The plans emphasize communication between the federal government and the local agencies most familiar with fire management in the region.

Wyden said that record-breaking high temperatures this early in the year indicate the need to be extra prepared for a potentially disastrous fire season.

“When the national weather service calls our incredible public servants in the middle of a briefing to tell us that we’re looking at a red flag warning today," he said, "That makes it clear that this scorching weather presents a very cold reality.”

The Oregon Democrat also said there will be funding to reduce fuels in the forest through prescribed burns, as well as money for people drafting evacuation plans.