Merkley, Wyden Announce $300,000 in Federal Funding for Wildfire Prevention Efforts in the Deschutes National Forest

Merkley, Wyden Announce $300,000 in Federal Funding for Wildfire Prevention Efforts in the Deschutes National Forest

Grant award for the Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project will support work to boost forest resiliency, prevent catastrophic wildfires

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today announced that the Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project is receiving $300,000 in federal funding, supporting its ongoing science-driven forest management efforts.

Last week, Merkley used his position as chair of the Senate Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, which funds the U.S. Forest Service, to host a hearing emphasizing the importance of responsible forest management, and pushed Biden administration officials for robust funding for the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP), including the Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project.  

 “Between lost lives, homes, and businesses, and hazardous blankets of smoke covering the entirety of our state for days on end, Oregon’s worsening wildfire season is a serious problem for all of our communities,” said Merkley. “Response and recovery efforts are critical to meeting this challenge, but we must also invest in the programs and projects to make our forests more resilient and return to more natural wildfire behavior. I’m grateful to the partners in the Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project who are working to help keep Central Oregon safe; I’ve seen firsthand the value of their work in stopping the Mill Fire in its tracks. I will continue to do all that I can to ensure they receive the funding they need to keep it up.”

“The fires bringing devastation to our state are not your grandfather’s fires, and we must mobilize data-driven, new approaches to prevent and fight them,” Wyden said. “This much-needed funding for the Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project is an investment towards the safety of Oregonians, our homes and local businesses from the threat of wildfires.”

“I am thrilled for our community. The important work this funding accomplishes near our communities is more important than ever given the horrible fire season we experienced last year. I want to thank Senators Merkley and Wyden, and the rest of the delegation, for their efforts to support collaborative and secure funding for the DCFP,” said Sally Russell, Mayor of Bend and Chair of the DCFP.

“We are excited to continue the collaborative work in fuels reduction and restoration we have been doing for the last ten years with our diverse partners and the public to protect our communities while keeping our national forests healthy for everyone to enjoy into the future,” said Holly Jewkes, Forest Supervisor, Forest Service, Deschutes National Forest.

“The initial 10-year, $10.1 million award through the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program allowed us to complete 120,000 acres of treatments in the forest lands surrounding Sunriver, Bend, Sisters, and Black Butte Ranch. These restoration treatments reduce wildfire risk to our communities, improve habitat for fish and wildlife, and create local jobs. We welcome the announcement of funding for a CFLR extension project that will help us finish the job of making our local National Forest lands healthier, safer, and more resilient,” said Phil Chang, Deschutes County Commissioner.

“Funding for the extension of the DCFP will allow us to continue our innovative collaboration process with the Deschutes National Forest.   Our focus will be to continue to reduce wildfire risk to the communities and natural resources of Central Oregon.  Public support of efforts to increase the pace and scale of Forest restoration projects, such as prescribed fire, will lead to resilient landscapes and fire adapted communities,” said Bob Madden, retired Deputy Chief of Bend Fire & Rescue, and fire service representative on the DCFP Steering Committee.

In 2018, Senator Merkley successfully led the charge—which Senator Wyden joined—to increase the authorized funding for CFLRP to $80 million. Oregon has four CFLR projects—Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project, Northern Blues Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program, Southern Blues Restoration Coalition Collaborative Landscape Restoration Project and Lakeview Collaborative Landscape Restoration Project—and a pent-up demand for additional projects.

Last week, Merkley applauded President Biden’s FY22 budget request, which includes $80 million for the CFLR program.