Local, National Leaders ask for forest management policy change

Medford, Ore. — More than 500,000 acres of forest has burned this fire season in Oregon. The evacuations, smoke, and devastation have caught the attention of state and national leaders. A bill has been passed in the U.S. Senate to help fund firefighting costs, but elected officials are now asking for a change in policy, to try and curb the damage of fire season in the first place.

“This year is virtually guaranteed to be the worst fire season in history in terms of the total area burned,” Senator Ron Wyden said. “My home state is getting pounded by these fires.”

Senator Wyden said the way our forests are handled needs to change.

“There’s been inadequate efforts to go in there and thin out the dead and dying material, then we have a lightning strike in our part of the world, and then all of a sudden you have an inferno on your hands,” Senator Wyden said.

State Senator Herman Baertschiger Jr., a former wildland firefighter is also tackling this issue.

“Senator Wyden and I have had some very good discussion over forest policies,” Senator Baertschiger said.

He recently sent a letter to Salem, urging the same consideration.

“We’ve exhausted our resources, and I think we need to reexamine our policies, especially at the federal level, not so much at the state level,” Senator Baertschiger said. “It’s not just forest health, it’s also the health of the communities.”

For both senators, their motivation comes down to one thing.

“The communities who face these growing threats need the government to come up with smarter policies to try to prevent as much of this as possible,” Senator Wyden said.

Senator Wyden will be in Brookings on Sunday to get an update on the Chetco Bar fire, and address the community.

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