WASHINGTON, DC – With fires still burning and the U.S. Forest Service’s fire suppression fund exhausted, Congress is heeding Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley’s call and moving forward with emergency funds to fill the gap. This August, Merkley sent a letter calling on Congressional leaders to provide emergency assistance to cover the costs of firefighting for this season, which have run over the Forest Service’s fire suppression fund due to historic wildfires in the West. Without additional funds for the fires, the Forest Service would be forced to fund firefighting operations by cutting back on other projects, such as timber sales in Oregon.
Today, the House announced that the emergency funds will be included in the bill to keep the government running through 2013, which is expected to pass the House and the Senate in the next two weeks.
“Oregon has already suffered through historic wildfires this year,” said Senator Merkley. “Our timber mills shouldn’t suffer again because the Forest Service has to choose between fighting wildfires and sending logs to the mills. This emergency assistance is critical for Oregon’s timber communities, and I’ll keep fighting to make sure it gets to the President’s desk as soon as possible.”
The bill would make up the full amount of the gap between the existing and needed funds for firefighting.
Merkley’s letter calling for emergency assistance can be found here.