State Budget Cuts Hit ODF Heading into Wildfire Season

The Oregon Department of Forestry could face a considerable problem with funding this wildfire season. 

ODF has a budget of $10 million for wildfire management. But for the last eight years, the agency has spent an average of $60 million on firefighting costs.  

On top of this difficulty, Gov. Kate Brown’s office has asked that all state departments make an 8.5% decrease to their budgets, due to revenue shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

According to OPB, State Representative Pam Marsh said Tuesday, “We will have to find money to fight fires. I don’t know where that will come from. I know that the governor’s office and the treasury and ODF and the legislature are going to have to find a path forward because we cannot run out of money in the middle of fire season.” 

Rep. Marsh (D-Ashland) is a member of the Governor’s Council on Wildfire Response. 

The Legislature was due to consider bills that would have added millions of dollars to the state’s firefighting budget. But these bills were tabled following a walkout by Republican lawmakers back in March.  

By JD Brookbank