Ron outlines plans to fight "powder keg of wildfire risk"
Ron heard last week from federal officials at a wildfire briefing in Portland how Oregon and the West stand on the brink of a very challenging fire season.
“Oregon and the West are sitting on a powder keg of wildfire risk,” Ron said during the briefing held at the Northwest Interagency Fire Center. “Plain and simple, the biggest wildfires are natural disasters that threaten families, homes and businesses.”
Underscoring the challenges ahead were fire restrictions in effect in much of Oregon, evacuations because of wildfires in central Oregon and blazes affecting southern Oregon that temporarily closed down I-5 south of Ashland.
Ron shared with officials what’s new — and what he is working on – to combat this powder keg created by a dry spring and warmer temperatures ahead.
He cited the final passage of his bipartisan bill with Idaho Senator Mike Crapo to end the long-term problem of “fire borrowing” that had forced federal agencies to steal from fire prevention to fight fires. And he discussed his work with Senator Jeff Merkley to provide resources to train National Guard members to fight wildfires.
“At the same time as these gains are in place, there is more work to be done,” Ron said.
He spoke of his work to ensure the right numbers of air tankers are in the right place as the summer heats up, and his request that the head of the U.S. Forest Service to report back on the agency’s approach to outline how it will place a priority on protecting homes, businesses and communities.