Merkley Leads Bipartisan Push for Robust National Guard Funding to Support Firefighting Efforts in the West
Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley along with many other U.S. Senators sent a letter to the Appropriations Committee asking for robust funding for the National Guard to support wildland firefighting efforts.
“Year after year wildfires ravage local communities, businesses, homes and infrastructure in dry and western states,” wrote the senators. “We ask that additional resources be allocated to the National Guard in order to train these members to do the critical work of protecting our communities. The appropriate training and equipment is essential to the wildfire season and with continued funding to the National Guard the states of Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming can rest assured knowing the most appropriate measures have been taken in order to protect their communities and interests.”
July of last year, more than 12,200 firefighters and support personnel—including members of the National Guard—were battling 59 major wildfires in Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho, Arizona, Wyoming, Alaska, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Montana, and Minnesota.
“In 2021 alone, wildfires destroyed 6.8 million acres of land,” they continued. “As state and federal agencies struggle to keep up with the annual devastation due to wildfires, support from the National Guard members has been critical. In 2021, this funding trained over 30,000 National Guard members to fight wildfires and protect communities across the country. This critical firefighting capability requires continued support from Congress to be sustained.”