Ron outlines comprehensive wildfires approach in Southern Oregon
As summer weather heated up Southern Oregon at the start of July, Ron heard from state and federal firefighting authorities in Medford about the wildfire season ahead and outlined his work to combat wildfires.
At their meeting, Ron said Southern Oregon’s past few smoky summers must move Congress to act with urgency.
“The time is long past for nickel-and-dime solutions to million-dollar problems caused by smoke like public health crises, damage to economic activity and life-and-death threats to Oregonians,” he said.
Among the pieces of the comprehensive approach he said is needed to fight wildfires and their impact is the Wildfire Smoke Relief Act he introduced last month with Sen. Jeff Merkley. That legislation would provide federal emergency assistance to at-risk individuals in Oregon and nationwide suffering from unhealthy air quality caused by wildfire smoke.
Ron also noted that he sounded the alarm in June when extremists back in Washington, DC -- thousands of miles from southern Oregon -- risked endless and needless litigation by recklessly proposing to gut environmental laws instead of tackling a serious backlog of wildfire prevention work for 2 million acres.
“Southern Oregon doesn’t want 2 million excuses about why there aren’t more thinning projects and prescribed fire treatment completed on these 2 million acres,” he said. “Southern Oregon just wants these fire risks reduced as soon as possible.”
He also has introduced four bills with Senator Merkley -- the Smoke-Ready Communities Act, the Wildfire Smoke Emergency Declaration Act, the Farmworker Smoke Protection Act, and the Smoke Planning and Research Act – that would help the public, businesses and agricultural operations combat wildfire smoke’s effects, and recover from the damage it causes.
Ron thanked all the firefighters for their round-the-clock work to keep Oregonians safe, adding that he was proud to have worked successfully with Idaho Senator Mike Crapo on the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act. That bipartisan bill treats the biggest wildfires as the natural disasters they are and ends the flawed practice of borrowing from wildfire prevention funds to pay for suppression, making money available for all the other fire prevention work mentioned above.