Oregon needs more money to fight big wildfires. Who should pay for it?

By Alex Baumhardt
Oregon Capital Chronicle
January 3, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The Oregon Department of Forestry needs more and consistent funding to fight wildfires. That much was clear following the 2020 Labor Day fires that burned nearly 850,000 acres of forests and became the state’s most expensive disaster in history. But lawmakers are split on how to pay for it. Two Democratic senators recently unveiled competing proposals to address long-term wildfire funding. Sen. Jeff Golden, D-Ashland, wants a tax on the value of industrial timber harvests to pay for protection that he says disproportionately benefits private forest owners. “There is a segment of the timber industry that’s more than able to shoulder more of the load, and when we think about the protection that they get from ODF, they should be picking up more of the baggage here,” Golden said. Sen. Elizabeth Steiner, D-Portland, wants to charge every property owner in the state an annual fee to pay for what she sees as a statewide issue.

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