“Enough’s enough”, Walden says current fire management policy isn’t working

Medford, Ore. — Congressman Greg Walden was in Medford Friday to discuss the impacts this wildfire season has had on the region, and what can be done at the federal level to address it. He says current policy isn’t working, and it’s time for a change.

“Enough’s enough,” US Representative for Oregon, Greg Walden says.

Cancelled shows, postponed concerts, and thick smoke raining ash from above, for weeks on end. The negative economic impacts along with health concerns has Congressman Greg Walden saying it’s time for a change in forest management.

“It’s 5 times more expensive to fight fire than it is to do the fuels treatment to reduce the impact of fire,” Walden says.

The congressman met with local lawmakers, and business leaders Friday, to get a better understanding of what the region dealt with this summer.

“When people see pictures of the sign at Crater Lake National Park on fire, that does not do a whole lot for tourism promotion in the state of Oregon,” CEO and President Brad Hicks of the Medford/Jackson County Chamber of Commerce says.

For the 5th time, Walden is putting forth legislation that would change current law, allowing for more active management before a fire happens, as well as clear guidelines for post fire recovery.

“Expedite the ability to go in and remove -where appropriate, using existing environmental concerns- the burned dead trees while they still have value,” Walden explains, “that will pay for the restoration. And our bill calls for 75% of the area burned gets restored. Right now, virtually none of it gets replanted.”

Getting the bill to pass will take some work. While the legislation has passed 4 times in the House it has failed each time in the Senate. Walden is hoping this time around will be different.

“Whether you’re a fiscal conservative, or an environmental liberal you ought to join forces here,” Walden says, “to get better air quality, save our watersheds and habitat, and prevent these catastrophic unnatural fires from choking us and destroying our forests.”

Walden says if they are successful in getting a bill through congress he is confident President Trump will sign it. We reached out the US Forest Service for comment on current policy, and did not hear back.

Kristin Hosfelt anchors NBC5 News at 6 with NBC5 News Director Craig Smullin. Kristin is originally from the Bay Area. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Broadcast Journalism from San Jose State University.

She comes to KOBI-TV/NBC5 from Bangor, Maine where she was the evening news anchor. Kristin has won multiple journalism awards including Best Feature Reporting in the State of Maine.

When Kristin is not sharing the news she's hunting down the best burrito, hiking a local trail or buried in a Jodi Picoult novel. She's also a Green Bay Packers shareholder! If you see her out and about she'd be happy to tell you how a California girl became a Cheesehead.

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