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ODF Requests $40 million from Legislature for Wildfire Shortfall
ODF Requests $40 million from Legislature for Wildfire Shortfall

Wildfires burned some 162 square miles of state, private and U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands in 2013, all under the protection of the Oregon Department Of Forestry. Lightning and drought combined to make this the greatest burn area total since 1951; eight times the 10-year average.

After federal reimbursements, $10 million from private landowners, and $25 million from a special insurance policy, ODF is still $40 million short of covering the $122 million final price tag for battling wildfires this year.

ODF first approached the legislative Emergency Board in Salem, which has the authority to cover spending when the Legislature is not in session. The Board did approve a $2 million appropriation to cover air tankers and helicopters, but with a $30 million ceiling, must refer the shortfall to the full Legislature when it convenes in February.

Rep. Peter Buckley, D-Ashland, co-chairman of the Joint Ways and Means Committee has stated that the bill will be paid, and stresses the need to continue increasing resources for fire protection. ODF spokesman, Dan Postrel seems to match-up with Buckley’s comments, stating that firefighting costs will rise with greater reliance on expensive technology, such as air tankers and helicopters, as well as more and bigger fires.

According to Climate Central Research in Princeton, N.J., Oregon is second only to California in average annual wildfire spending among Western states.
Posted by Tom Ray