Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden today led Sen. Jeff Merkley and Reps. Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, Kurt Schrader and Suzanne Bonamici in pressing the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Interior to expedite the initiation and completion of the Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) program for wildfires in Oregon.
“A combination of climate change, historic droughts, a lack of proper forest management, dry forest conditions, and strong winds have brought a series of catastrophic wildfires to Oregon. Over 1.5 million acres have burned, and many fires continue to burn in the state and across the country. These fires have destroyed critical infrastructure, thousands of homes, and have tragically taken the lives of multiple Oregonians,” the lawmakers wrote. “The BAER program can help determine the urgent and appropriate response to these post-fire effects in Oregon.”
The lawmakers also warned of the potential for contaminated drinking water sources, damaged water infrastructure, landslides and flooding in the aftermath of the fires across the state. The BAER program provides critical information to federal and local responders that help communities affected by post-fire damage.
“As Oregonians continue to battle hazardous air quality due to wildfire smoke, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the wildfires that continue to burn, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Interior must have all the necessary resources to mitigate landslides and flash flooding in the areas impacted by these wildfires,” the lawmakers concluded.
A copy of today’s letter is available here.