August 16, 2018

Wyden and Agriculture Department Announce Plan to Streamline Cleanup of Hazardous Fuels, Reduce Wildfire Risk

Forest Service Report Comes in Response to Wyden’s Request for a New, Effective Plan to Reduce Fire Danger

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today joined U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen to announce a new plan for the Forest Service to address the hazardous fuels backlog contributing to devastating wildfires in Oregon and the West.

The report follows Wyden’s request during an Energy and Natural Resources hearing earlier this year that the Forest Service outline a timely plan to address the 80 million acres of hazardous fuels backlog. The report details a proposal to streamline collaboration among local, state, and federal agencies to tackle the backlog, using the most current data collected using 21st century science.

Wildfires in Oregon and the West are getting bigger, hotter, and more difficult to fight,” said Wyden, a senior member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “At a time when these blazes are threatening homes and businesses as well as generating choking smoke that’s creating clean air refugees looking for places to breathe, this innovative plan provides the urgently needed blueprint that will enable local, state, and federal entities to work more efficiently to tackle the growing backlog of hazardous fuels.”

“Improving the health of our forests is a key step to reduce the risk of dangerous wildfires,” Wyden said. “And I am glad that federal officials have recognized the critical need for this step by producing this fantastic framework for meaningful and lasting progress.”

Continued failure to adequately address the cleanup of hazardous fuels has led to a reduction in overall forest health, and increases the risk of larger, more dangerous wildfires. The approach announced today is based on the authority for the Forest Service to partner with states to tackle forest restoration projects and health management granted by the Wyden Amendment, passed as part of a Senate spending bill two decades ago.