Tell Your Oregon State Representative to Promote Smarter Wildfire Policy

The Oregon Legislature begins its short session on Monday, and it’s gearing up to be a very busy month! Perhaps the most high-profile bill this session is the cap & trade bill known as the Oregon Greenhouse Gas Initiative (OGGI), which is now being linked to a wildfire bill that includes encouraging measures to enhance community resilience to wildfires, as well as some concerning provisions to dramatically increase thinning in Oregon’s forests.

Unfortunately, the carbon bill currently calls for a quarter of all revenues from the cap & trade program to go towards thinning and fuel reduction. Scientists predict that climate change will only continue to increase wildfire activity in Oregon’s forests regardless of our thinning efforts, which is why the legislature should prioritize enhancing community resilience to wildfires rather than attempting to control fire behavior across the entire landscape.

Call your Oregon state representative and state senator today and tell them that state policy should fund strategies that reduce carbon emissions and help Oregonians adapt to the impacts of climate change, not thinning trees in the backcountry. 

Experts have found that the most effective strategies to protect homes and communities are to:

  • retrofit homes with fire-resistant materials;
  • maintain defensible space within 100 ft of structures; and
  • limit new development in fire prone areas.

The Oregon Greenhouse Gas Initiative (SB1530) should explicitly prioritize these adaptation measures over any fuels reduction activities. By working from the home-out rather than from the backcountry-in, our state can dramatically decrease the likelihood of losing homes to wildfire.

Here is a list of other related bills that we’re following:

SB 1514- Requires State Forestry Department to establish demonstration projects for reducing wildfire risk on forestlands and rangelands.

SB 1515- Directs the Office of State Treasurer to research the creation of a wildfire workforce foundation and report to the committee or interim committee of Legislative Assembly related to wildfire no later than September 15th, 2020.

SB 1516- Creates a program for periodic review and modernization of State Forestry Department structure and programs to ensure effectiveness and efficiency, including but not limited to Department programs relating to wildfire.

SB 1536- Requires electric company to operate in compliance with risk-based wildfire protection plan acknowledged by Public Utility Commission.

You can subscribe to updates on any of these bills through the Capitals e-Subscribe.

Related news coverage about wildfire policy:

Oregon Governor Proposes New Wildfire Protection Plan (Oregon Public Broadcasting)