Senators Merkley and Wyden Announce More than $262 Million in U.S. Forest Service Funds Headed to Oregon
Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today announced a total of $262,736,000 headed to Oregon to help the state recover from wildfires. The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) will allocate nearly $1.1 billion in disaster assistance funding nationally to support different regions dealing with post-disaster recovery and other emergency needs as a result of natural disasters occurring in 2019, 2020, and 2021. Today’s announcement is a direct result of funding that Senator Merkley secured using his position as Chairman of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, which funds the USFS.
“Over the last three years, Oregon’s forests and surrounding communities have been devastated by catastrophic wildfires, adversely impacting Oregonians, our lands, wildlife, and waters,” said Chairman Merkley. “Healthy forests sustain our economy, protect our drinking water, and provide places for recreation throughout the state. This funding will fill a critical gap in wildfire response and recovery by investing in restoring these landscapes, rebuilding trails and recreational access points, and helping grow a more resilient forest. I promise I’ll continue to fight to secure resources that boost our wildfire and disaster recovery efforts in every corner of the state.”
“Oregonians know in painful detail how wildfires have ripped a destructive path through our communities statewide in recent years, and I’m glad these federal funds will help our state recover from these disasters,” said Wyden. “A significant part of that rebound from wildfires throughout Oregon is restoring forests’ resiliency to reduce fire risks, protect our state’s world-class recreation opportunities and preserve our natural treasures for generations to come. I’m gratified that the work on this legislative funding package is helping with the recovery by treating wildfires like the disasters they are. And I’ll keep working to provide similar funds for Oregon.”
The $262.7 million disaster recovery grant funding comes from a portion of the $1.1 billion of disaster funding provided to the Forest Service through the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act of 2021, which was signed into law on September 30, 2021. Both senators pushed hard for the disaster package, and Senator Merkley worked with his Appropriations Committee colleagues to ensure that funds were included for recovery specifically on public lands.
The Forest Service has spent the past several months working to determine top priority needs for the disaster assistance funding; national forests and grasslands will be provided with specific funding for selected projects that meet certain criteria. This funding will be used additionally for State and Private Forestry programs to meet recovery needs on non-Federal lands in states that experienced damage from wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters. This funding will also be allocated to complete data collection and program delivery tasks delayed by natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic.