Last month, state lawmakers passed the Wildfire Protection Act. With that approval comes an additional $1.8 million for the Oregon Department of Forestry, which has already paid dividends in the early part of the fire season.
The money–at least in part–is for the early stages of a wildfire. ODF will spend more when the fires are small on mobile support, like air tankers and helicopters. It will also use it to better position crews in places where fire danger is more severe, which is what ODF is expecting in our area later this week.
Foresters say spending just a little on resources when a fire’s small can help save taxpayers.
“Having those resources there, we may spend a few thousand dollars vs. millions of dollars. If a fire gets away and you order in a fire team, then you’re talking millions of dollars to suppress that fire,” said Greg Wagenblast, ODF District Forester.
Crews that KEZI 9 News spoke with last week say the extra funding has already helped keep small fires in central Oregon from turning into very large ones.