Merkley, Wyden Announce Over $38 Million Coming to Oregon to Combat Growing Wildfire Crisis

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announced today that Oregon is receiving over $38 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for wildfire resilience efforts under the U.S. Forest Service’s Wildfire Crisis Strategy. This significant federal investment, provided as part of the Biden administration’s National Climate Resilience Framework, will be used to minimize wildfire threats to Oregon’s communities, vital infrastructure, and natural resources.

In recent years, Oregon has faced growing wildfire and smoke threats that are being fueled by intensified climate chaos.

“In Oregon and across the West, our homes, businesses, and natural treasures are facing increasingly severe wildfires as climate chaos endangers our communities,” said Merkley, who has used his position as Chair of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee to fight for more federal resources for wildfire resilience. “Virtually every Oregonian has encountered, to some degree, the escalating danger posed by wildfires to our well-being, economies, and ecosystems. With extreme wildfire seasons showing no signs of ending, there is an urgent need to significantly boost investments aimed at fortifying our forests, timber industries, and communities – enhancing their health and resilience.”

“I fought hard to secure these critical investments to reduce the threat of wildfire to our communities. The importance of these preventative resources is evident as we head into what is expected to be another especially dry summer in the Pacific Northwest,” dijo Wyden. “Not only does this funding help protect Oregon communities from deadly infernos, it preserves intact landscapes that provide drinking water, recreation opportunities and climate resilience for millions of Oregonians.”

Senator Merkley has been a long-time advocate and leader in preparing communities to respond to and recover from wildfires. He introduced three important wildfire and wildfire smoke-related bills this Congress to respond to the growing threat in Oregon and states throughout the West.  

Nationwide, funding through the Ley de Reducción de la Inflación y el Ley de Infraestructura Bipartidista is going to 21 designated priority landscapes across the West, including three regions in Oregon: Central Oregon, Klamath River Basin, and Mount Hood landscapes. The investment will allow national forests—in collaboration with Tribes, communities, and other partners—to build local capacity for projects to reduce wildfire risk and improve forest health to protect communities, infrastructure, water quality, and adjacent landowners.

Funding amounts approved for the three designated priority landscapes in Oregon are as follows:

  • $18,200,000 to Central Oregon
  • $15,470,000 to the Klamath River Basin
  • $4,970,000 to Mount Hood Forest Health and Fire-Resistant Communities

Additionally, $100 million will be allocated under a new program established by the USFS—the Collaborative Wildfire Risk Reduction Program—to expand work in high-risk wildfire areas outside the 21 priority landscapes, including those in Oregon. This new program is inspired by past examples and success of programs such as the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program, which is championed by Senators Merkley and Wyden as a highly effective program in bringing stakeholders from all walks of life together to create solutions aimed at reducing wildfire risk across the West.