EUGENE, Ore. – As the Cedar Creek Fire continues to
burn at zero percent containment, Senator Jeff Merkley came to the area Friday
to discuss fire suppression efforts and more funding for wildfire response.
His first stop Friday at the Cedar Creek Incident Command
Post where he met with fire officials and introduced new legislation to fight
fires here in Oregon.
The Bipartisan Civilian Conservation Center Enhancement Act;
it’s a joint effort with Montana Senator Steve Daines. If it passes, students
in the Labor Department’s “job corps” program would be able to get
training in fighting wildland fires.
“Our hope is to rein in and train an addition 300
people in firefighting profession every year out of the CCC program” said
Senator Jeff Merkley.
Smoke was another topic today as Senator Merkley is pushing
forward two bills- to expand smoke studies and to help the community deal with
“One of these bills builds on a pilot project at the
University of Oregon that creates a center of excellence to study the issue of
smoke” said Merkley.
That bill calls to expand that to three additional centers
across the West.
Senator Merkley says, “The second is a grant program to
help community deal with the smoke.”
He wants to ensure people people have access to clean air,
by setting up community centers that are prepared to keep smoke out.
As for the current fight against wildfires across the state,
many wonder will the state run out of money.
“The answer is no Senator Wyden and I have been pushing
for really robust funding and we still have two billion dollars left for just
Sept,” Senator Merkley said.
After this month, Oregon goes into new fiscal year and receives
After touring the Cedar Creek incident command post, Senator
Merkley stopped by the University of Oregon for a roundtable
discussion about wildfire smoke.