Oregon Governor Kate Brown is pushing the Oregon Legislature to pass the Wildfire Readiness, Response and Recovery Plan. It’s a bill now in the Oregon Senate (SB 1536). The plan was born in the Council on Wildfire Response that she put together last year.
“Almost every fire season since I became Governor has been a historic fire season. We’ve seen unprecedented damage to our homes, livelihoods, and Oregon’s natural environment,” the governor said. “We know that fire seasons are only going to be more and more challenging. Studies suggest the comprehensive costs of wildfire are 11 times greater than the immediate costs of firefighting. By investing in restoration treatments and forest health, Oregon may avoid costly damages while simultaneously creating jobs in rural parts of the state. We have a real chance to make a difference ahead of the 2020 fire season, and doing nothing is not an option.”
The plan includes aggressive thinning of forests over the next 20 years. That’s 5.6 million acres of forest and rangelands or about 10% of the forestland in Oregon.
If passed, the plan includes an expansion of resources for fighting fire. The Oregon Department of Forestry will have funds to put more people in the firefighting ranks. The goal is to have enough resources to put fires out quickly so they don’t grow to crisis size.
Theoretically that keeps the cost of firefighting down. The bill also pushes administrative staff to promptly bill for firefighting services.
Costs are an issue. The bill’s price tag is $200 million a year over 20-years and is in the $4 billion range. Critics say it is too much and some say it doesn’t really solve the problem and is a government overreach.
OregonLive did an excellent story on the issue. Click here for the link.
Source links: Governor Kate Brown, OregonLive.com