Sen. Merkley details how omnibus bill helps So. Oregon

SOUTHERN OREGON, —Oregon Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announcing funding for a wide range of topics. Now, we’re diving into the various ways the funding would impact southern Oregon.

“We were able to secure around 140 projects through this senate bill which have survived into the omnibus,” said Senator Merkley.

Thursday Senator Jeff Merkley highlighted issues like drought, forests, economic issues, and housing, that would be addressed in a new bill being considered in Washington. Senator Merkley says the current bill contains critical efforts to rebuild irrigation infrastructure to serve farmers and ranchers more efficiently.

“The total amount of funding available for drought relief is the fiscal year 2022 to that number of 10 million,” said Senator Merkley.

Locally, Senator Merkley’s office says Rogue River Valley and Medford Irrigation District will get $5 million for joint system piping. Klamath County became the first county in the state to declare a drought this week. Merkley’s office says Klamath County will receive $2 million for Upper Klamath Lake water reuse equipment.

“Of course, we’ve been suffering year after year from the drought that has covered more of the eastern part of our state and southern part of our state,” said Senator Merkley.

His office says wildfire management and forest restoration are also to receive funding. Lomakatski Restoration Project is set to receive $500,000, toward its Jacksonville Community Wildfire Protection Project. The funding will support and fund fuel housing reduction work, as well as community wildfire safety work on private lands and city lands.

“These dollars will be part of a larger initiative called the west bear all lands restoration project that’s a 27,000-acre area that goes from Talent, Phoenix, Medford into Jacksonville,” said Marko Bey, Lomakatski Executive Director.

Jacksonville Fire Chief, Wayne Painter says the fire threat to the city is high, only highlighting the importance of the funds

“What this allows us to do is to have the homeowners do a lot of their concentration on fuel thinning around their homes, and then the fire department and our partnership allows us to look at it on a bigger scale,” said Chief Painter.

Finally, Medford’s Kid Time Discovery Experience also looks to be receiving over a million dollars. It’s a non-profit children’s museum and an early learning center in downtown Medford. The funding will allow the discovery museum and preschool to add an outdoor classroom, expanding its ability to serve children

“Being able to expand our capacity is essential and so anything that we can be able to meet the needs of the family we need to do, so this is going to help us serve the families that need to be served right now,” said Kid Time Executive Director, Sunny Spicer.

The bill is not final, but when it is, t’s expected to pass through congress, and be signed into law by president Biden this week.

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Jenna King
NBC5 News Reporter Jenna King is a Burbank native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Sports Business. During her time at the U of O, she was part of the student-run television station, Duck TV. She also grew her passion for sports through interning with the PAC 12 Network. When Jenna is not in the newsroom you can find her rooting for her hometown Dodgers, exploring the outdoors, or binging on the latest Netflix release.
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