Merkley urges action to prepare for wildfire season in Oregon

Senator Jeff Merkley is working on reducing the severity of wildfires.

Posted: May 16, 2019 12:28 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Wildfire season is approaching, and Senator Jeff Merkley says the Forest Service isn’t as prepared as it should be.

Merkley spoke at the Department of the Interior’s hearing in Washington, D.C. He’s pushing them to use $600 million in savings to treat forests before wildfires strike.

“They are adjusting,” Merkley said. “We just don’t know if they’re adjusting fast enough. The fire season has gotten so much longer here. We are already with major fires having been burning in Oregon, and it’s the month of May. And it used to be fire season started in July”

The senator hopes increasing thinning and controlled burns will help the Forest Service prepare for fires happening earlier in the year.

He’s also been working on getting the National Guard trained to fight wildfires. Several hundred National Guard members have already been trained, and another 130 will be trained by July, Merkley said.

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