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EarthFix

Western Wildfire Funding Attached to Hurricane Harvey Relief Bill

As big fires batter the Northwest, the state's U.S. senators make the case for more federal help.

September 7, 2017

Emergency aid to help victims of Hurricane Harvey now also includes additional money to fight wildfires in Oregon and other western states. 

The U.S. Senate on Thursday added provisions replenishing the U.S. Forest Service’s budget for the rest of this fire season. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., said it should amount to more than $100 million in additional aid. He said the money will ensure that the agency won't have to cannibalize programs aimed at making fires less likely to burn in the first place — something he said has frequently happened in the past.

“We steal from fire prevention to pay for fires that are burning,” Merkley said in an interview, “and we also proceed to do things like shut down planning for future timber sales. So it affects everything the forest service does. That will not happen now.”

Merkley and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., both spoke on the Senate floor next to enlarged photos of flames racing through Oregon forests.

Read the rest of this story on OPB.



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A firefighter stands on I-84, which has been closed because of the Eagle Creek Fire.

Kristian Foden-Vencil