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Wildfire

Oregon to receive wildfire recovery funding for federal forests

Fire damage can be seen on the hills in Willamette National Forest in this April 15, 2021 file photo in what has become a familiar sight and challenge in Oregon. To help with wildfire recovery efforts, the U.S. Forest Service in Oregon will be getting more than $262 million in federal disaster funding.
Kristyna Wentz-Graff
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Fire damage can be seen on the hills in Willamette National Forest in this April 15, 2021 file photo in what has become a familiar sight and challenge in Oregon. To help with wildfire recovery efforts, the U.S. Forest Service in Oregon will be getting more than $262 million in federal disaster funding.

The money is part of a $1.1 billion disaster assistance bill that passed last year to help regions across the country recover from a variety of natural disasters over the last three years.

The U.S. Forest Service in Oregon will be getting more than $262 million in federal disaster funding to help with wildfire recovery.

Oregon’s Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, both Democrats, supported the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act of 2021, which passed in September with more than a billion dollars in funding for recovery efforts after wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters.

More than a million acres of land across Oregon burned in the Labor Day wildfires in 2020, calling attention to the need to manage trees and brush in federal forests to reduce the risk of wildfire.

In a statement, Merkley said the additional wildfire recovery funds announced Wednesday are a direct result of his work as chairman of an appropriations subcommittee that makes decisions on funding the Forest Service.

“Over the last three years, Oregon’s forests and surrounding communities have been devastated by catastrophic wildfires, adversely impacting Oregonians, our lands, wildlife, and waters,” Merkley said. “This funding will fill a critical gap in wildfire response and recovery by investing in restoring these landscapes, rebuilding trails and recreational access points, and helping grow a more resilient forest.”

Wyden said in a statement that, “restoring forests’ resiliency to reduce fire risks” will be a significant part of Oregon’s recovery from extensive wildfires.

“Oregonians know in painful detail how wildfires have ripped a destructive path through our communities statewide in recent years,” Wyden said in a statement. “I’m glad these federal funds will help our state recover from these disasters.”

Additionally, the Biden administration recently announced a $3 billion plan to reduce wildfire risk through forest management actions that would remove flammable material through selective logging and prescribed burning.

The U.S. Forest Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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