U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, introduced the Wildfire-Resilient Communities Act last week. The bill aims to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires, along with the smoke and economic losses those fires cause.

The bill would create a $1 billion fund for the Forest Service to pay for wildfire reduction projects. It would also empower federal agencies to work with local communities to plan and prepare for wildfires and create a County Stewardship Fund that would benefit county governments. When forests are thinned under stewardship contracts, counties would receive 25 percent of the receipts.

“Across the country, our communities have been threatened by increasingly severe wildfires,” Merkley said in a written statement. “As we saw this summer in Oregon, even communities not directly impacted by flames were inundated with smoke. We need a dramatic increase in the resources that make our forests—and our timber economies—healthier.”

Merkley said the bill is needed since there’s a hotter and drier climate throughout much of the west, and because fire suppression continues to eat up the Forest Service’s budget.

Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians CEO Michael Rondeau said catastrophic wildfires are threatening the tribe’s homelands and people.

“We are appreciative of the hard work Sen. Merkley is doing to restore the forests of our homelands,” Rondeau said.

State Rep. David Brock Smith, R-Port Orford, said the act will benefit “fire stricken rural communities.”

“This act will greatly assist our communities, help align federal, state and local agency resources for community fire resiliency projects,” he said.

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(6) comments

Mogie

"I stand by what I said. Who here posting comments is going to answer the question of where the money comes from? A quick call to Merkley's office might answer your question not anybody here." I would think the reporter who did the article would be able to answer that question. Don't be so hostile.

DavidReeck

The Bill, as described in the article, would be more clear if some specific goals were mentioned. For example: harvesting a specific amount of wood which could be fire breaks and removing trees that are dead or dying due to previous fires or disease. Protecting while monetizing our renewable resource.

Mogie

:The bill would create a $1 billion fund for the Forest Service to pay for wildfire reduction projects." Where would the $1 billion come from? Someone would be paying this bill.

smedleyb

When they increased the new defense budget this year did you ask the same question? When they cut taxes and increase Federal spending did you ask that question?

Mogie

Geeze dude mellow out. I asked a question regarding Oregon that was in the local paper. No political motivation behind the question. Just curious if the influx of money mentioned comes from the federal or state government. And if it was budgeted or would their be a new tax to cover the expense. Why do people seem to like to read secret agendas into a honest question?

smedleyb

I stand by what I said. Who here posting comments is going to answer the question of where the money comes from? A quick call to Merkley's office might answer your question not anybody here.

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