I’m just going to be blunt: wildfire season is underway, and things aren’t looking good for Oregon.
Governor Brown already declared a drought emergency in nearly half of Oregon’s 36 counties. Our state is heading into a hot, dry summer. Portland experienced its driest meteorological spring on record. As I write this, a wildfire is currently raging in Warm Springs. It has burned over 6,200 acres thus far and is only ten percent contained. Meteorologists are projecting that smoke could roll into Portland as early as today. The need to create wildfire resilient communities could not be more urgent. We must demand our elected officials act now to keep Oregon safe from the most devastating impacts of wildfires.
Senate Bill 762 B, the Wildfire Safe Bill, is a smart, comprehensive policy our state needs to protect lives and property from wildfire, and to help us rebuild when wildfires occur. The current legislative session ends THIS Sunday, June 27th; this is our last week to get critical bills like the Wildfire Safe Bill over the finish line. Special interest groups are lobbying hard to get the bill watered down, making it all the more important that our elected officials hear from us today.
The Wildfire Safe Bill takes active steps to build wildfire resilience and response, making our communities safer, more prepared, and ready to respond to future wildfire events. It modernizes Oregon’s approach by:
- Making investments in community-driven restoration of forests and rangelands to reduce wildfire risk, protect lives and property, and increase landscape resiliency.
- Providing resources to protect vulnerable communities from wildfire smoke.
- Adding firefighter capacity and air defense resources to provide improved wildfire response and ensure firefighter safety.
- Ensuring safe and reliable electric utility systems before and during wildfire events.
- Establishing defensible space standards, and providing financial resources to protect communities and critical infrastructure.
- Creating the Oregon Wildfire Workforce Corps Program to reduce wildfire risk to communities and provide workforce training to the next generation of land managers.
While we continue fighting for policies to help stave off the worst impacts of climate change, we also must enact policies that make our communities more resilient to the climate impacts we’re already experiencing. SB 762 B, the Wildfire Safe Bill, is one of these policies. Longer, more intense wildfire seasons are, sadly, our state’s new normal. We must prepare our communities for this new reality by passing SB 762 B.
Lawmakers are working at a feverish pace to get many important bills over the finish line; we can’t let this important piece of legislation get lost in the shuffle. Contact lawmakers today to tell them we need SB 762 B to make Oregon Wildfire Safe.