Merkley, Wyden Announce Over $40 Million in New Funding to Address the Wildfire Crisis in Oregon

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and
Ron Wyden announced that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing
over $40 million in new funding in Fiscal Year 2023 for key high-risk
landscapes in Oregon—including $4,500,000 for the Mount Hood National Forest,
$35,400,000 for the Klamath River Basin, and additional funding for the
Deschutes National Forest—to expand efforts to reduce the risk of catastrophic
wildfire. Deschutes National Forest was designated as a critical landscape
previously and is expected to receive over $40 million in investment over the
next five years. The newly designated Mt. Hood National Forest and Klamath
River Basin project areas will receive additional funding over the next ten
years. Merkley, as Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the
U.S. Forest Service, and Senator Wyden, who is a senior member of the Energy
and Natural Resources Committee, had a key role in authoring wildfire-related
sections of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act,
which are the source of this funding.

“As Oregon’s wildfire seasons grow longer and hotter and
severely impact Oregonians’ quality of life, they are a stark reminder of how
important resilient forests are to protecting our communities,” said Senator
. “Healthy forests sustain our economy, protect our drinking water,
and provide places for recreation throughout the state. This expanded funding
will invest in restoring Oregon’s landscapes and make it harder for wildfires
to explode into megafires. I will keep fighting to make sure Oregon gets the
support it needs to reduce the risk of severe wildfire to our communities and

“Every year like clockwork Oregonians brace themselves
for wildfire season and what devastation it may bring. And because of the
climate crisis, wildfire seasons are only growing longer and the fires are
burning hotter and more catastrophic,” Wyden said. “On-the-ground
work to make our forests healthier and more resilient is a must in the face of
these threats. These investments are desperately needed and will save
property and lives. While I am pleased we secured these critical
resources, I remain steadfast in my belief that much more needs to be done to
reduce unacceptable risk to Oregon communities and I am fully committed to
securing the tools and resources necessary to address that risk.”

The Forest Service announced their original 10 landscape
project areas last year as part of the agency’s broader strategy to
protect communities, critical infrastructure and forest resources from
catastrophic wildfire. Combined with the initial 10 landscape investments,
these additional 11 efforts across seven western states represent a total USDA
investment of $930 million across 45 million acres. These projects are funded
through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction