In a hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee today, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., pressed the chief of the U.S. Forest Service for an update on implementation of the “fire borrowing” fix and the agency’s plans to prioritize the 2.5 million acres backlog of hazardous fuels and wildfire prevention projects in Oregon.
Congress in 2018 passed Wyden’s Wildfire Disaster Funding Act to end the damaging budget practice of “fire borrowing,” which for years forced the Forest Service to raid fire prevention and other forest health funding accounts to pay to put out increasingly large and expensive fires.
“We really ought to have money liberated because we finally said we’re not going to have this bizarre policy where we keep raiding prevention money to fight big fires,” Wyden said during the hearing. “If you’re no longer raiding prevention, you can use prevention money to hit these targets. I would like to ask you to provide us month-to-month treatment targets for reducing hazardous fuels in Oregon.”
Click here to watch the exchange between Wyden and Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen.
Wyden also discussed his efforts to increase the pace and scale of prescribed fire and new technologies needed for firefighting.