Merkley, Wyden Announce FEMA Funding to Support Wildfire Resiliency Efforts in the City of Talent

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announced today the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is awarding the City of Talent over $1.1 million through two Defensible Space and Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project grants.

The investments will help the Southern Oregon community boost forest management efforts and reduce dangerous fuels to build increased wildfire resiliency, which is vital as Talent continues to recover from the catastrophic 2020 Almeda Fire.

“When the 2020 Labor Day fires broke out, I drove over 600 miles up and down Oregon to meet affected families and see the damage firsthand. The destruction I witnessed was gut-wrenching. Lives were lost, homes and businesses were leveled, and entire communities were destroyed, including Talent,” dijo Merkley. “These FEMA grants for the City to remove hazardous fuels will help the whole Talent community build a stronger wildfire-resilient future. “

“These federal funds for Talent will help this southern Oregon community tremendously with the three Rs of Disaster Help 101 – response, recovery and rebound,” wyden dijo. “I have seen and heard firsthand during my visits with Oregonians in Talent just how devastating these wildfires were for families and small business. And I am gratified this community will get this vital assistance to help it move forward.”

Merkley and Wyden successfully called for a Major Disaster Declaration in response to the 2020 Labor Day fires, which was an essential move to bring critical federal relief to many communities in the state. The City of Talent in Jackson County was hit especially hard, losing several hundred homes and businesses in the Almeda Fire. Federal funding stemming from the disaster declaration continues to help the city and communities across the state recover, rebuild, and increase resiliency to face future wildfire threats.

Through FEMA’s Defensible Space and Hazardous Fuels Reduction grants, a total of $1,108,085 will help Talent undergo wildfire mitigation projects:

  • $1,038,834.99 to fund the mitigation of wildfires to local residential and commercial infrastructure by reducing the threat to human life and property. This project will be implemented within 2 miles of homes and other structures specifically covering 74.8 acres: 68.98 acres of Bear Creek Greenway; and 5.82 acres Wagner Creek Greenway. This project removes downed, dead, dry, or highly flammable vegetation material in the project area and restores the area with Indigenous vegetation to reduce future hazardous fuel accumulation.
  • $69,250 to fund the City of Talent’s management costs to mitigate wildfire risks to local residential and commercial infrastructure. These funds will be utilized between the end of the City of Talent’s current Fiscal Year 2024 and the end of September 2025.

“I speak for a relieved community when I express our tremendous gratitude to the offices of Senator Merkley and Senator Wyden for their support in securing this grant. Mitigating remaining hazardous fire fuels is a top priority in Talent. This critical funding will ensure significant progress toward that outcome,” said Mayor Darby Ayers-Flood, City of Talent.