Mobile Menu - OpenMobile Menu - Closed

Oregon Delegation Pushes Federal Agencies to Prepare for 2021 Wildfire Season

Jul 8, 2021
Press Release
Noting the unprecedented 2020 season and wildfires already burning across the state, lawmakers are asking for details on preparation efforts

Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, alongside Representatives Peter DeFazio (D-OR-04), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-03), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-01), and Cliff Bentz (R-OR-02), are pushing agencies in charge of federal wildfire response to step up preparedness efforts for the 2021 wildfire season—which could be as bad or worse than the unprecedented 2020 season.  

In a letter to the secretaries of the U.S. Department of Interior and U.S. Department of Agriculture, the lawmakers highlighted the devastation caused by last year’s wildfires: “As you know, Oregon, and the rest of the West, experienced an unprecedented and destructive wildfire season in 2020. More than 50,000 fires burned 10 million acres with fires lasting well into the fall. Already fires and smoke have threatened the health and safety of several communities in Oregon.”

The delegation asked for detailed plans for preparation, including personnel, resources, and coordination among agencies.

“We appreciate the steps that you have taken to prepare for the 2021 wildfire season,” the lawmakers wrote. “The recent announcement of federal resources from the administration is welcome news, and we encourage you to continue to appropriately plan and prepare for what is likely to be a difficult wildfire season.”

The full letter can be read here and below.

###

Dear Secretary Haaland and Secretary Vilsack:

We write concerning your agencies’ preparations for the 2021 wildfire seasons.

As you know, Oregon, and the rest of the West, experienced an unprecedented and destructive wildfire season in 2020. More than 50,000 fires burned 10 million acres with fires lasting well into the fall. Already fires and smoke have threatened the health and safety of several communities in Oregon. We appreciate the steps that you have taken to prepare for the 2021 wildfire season. The recent announcement of federal resources from the administration is welcome news, and we encourage you to continue to appropriately plan and prepare for what is likely to be a difficult wildfire season.

In order to better understand your efforts to prepare and respond to wildfires, we ask that you respond to the following questions:

  • What will be the cumulative impact of recently proposed personnel changes to overall readiness levels? What other steps have your agencies taken to ensure sufficient personal are in place for this fire season?
  • What steps are you taking to appropriately pre-position resources?
  • How are your agencies coordinating with the Department of Defense and state National Guards to integrate their resources into the coordinated wildfire response?
  • How have your agencies ensured that there are sufficient aviation assets available? How many additional aviation resources do you have available this year compared to last year?
  • How are your agencies collaborating with state and local agencies to ensure a coordinated response to mitigate wildfire risk and help communities prepare?
  • How are your agencies coordinating with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to integrate and deploy advanced sensor technologies to improve your ability to detect, predict, and respond to wildfires?
  • How are your agencies coordinating with the Environmental Protection Agency to help prepare and respond to wildfire smoke?

Thank you for your attention to this issue and your efforts to help Oregon recover and prepare for wildfire season.

Sincerely,