WASHINGTON (KTVZ) – Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., announced Friday that the US Department of Agriculture is providing over $40 million in new funding in Fiscal Year 2023 for key high-risk landscapes in Oregon — including $4.5 million for the Mount Hood National Forest, $35.4 million for the Klamath River Basin, and additional funding for the Deschutes National Forest—to expand efforts to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire.
The 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 10 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 Merkley. “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 businesses.”
"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 Act.