SALEM, Ore. – An Oregon Senator formally asked the U.S. Forest Service to explain how they plan to use a new funding source intended to restart forest fire prevention efforts in the state.
According to U.S. Senator Ron Wyden’s (D) office, Congress passed the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act last month. The new law puts a stop to a Forest Service budgeting practice commonly known as “fire borrowing.” This borrowing requires the USFS to divert ever-increasing firefighting funds from other accounts when firefighting efforts run over budget.
“Our bipartisan wildfire funding solution is great news for Oregon and communities throughout the West because of what it should lead to: certainty for Forest Service funding that will liberate funds for much-needed wildfire prevention,” Wyden said. “But it is not a blank check. Now that Congress has passed the bipartisan fire funding fix I worked with Sen. Crapo for years to pass into law, the Forest Service needs to get back to work in the woods and start getting ahead of these infernos that are threatening our communities.”
The new funding rules allow the Forest Service to utilize emergency funding to pay for firefighting efforts if they go over-budget. This will allow allocated fire prevention funding to go toward its intended goal.
On Capitol Hill, Wyden questioned interim Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen, who agreed to provide committee members with a plan on how the new funds will be used before summer begins.
Wyden’s full line of questioning can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/sAoa4MVUYoM