U.S. Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley held a town hall in Eugene Monday. In a press meeting before the event, Senator Merkley stated that the Federal Government has a responsibility to take on the costs of fighting large forest fires. He says doing so will help end “fire borrowing,” which is what happens when the forest service stops all other functions and drains its accounts in order to stop fires.
“We need to take the top couple percent – the worst forest fires and have them covered by a FEMA-type organization," says Merkley. "If you take the top two percent of fires and you put them in an emergency account and treat them like a hurricane, like an earthquake, then we would end fire borrowing and let the forest service be very competent in all the other things it’s supposed to be doing.”
Last summer there was no fire borrowing because the forest service was funded a $600 million buffer. However Merkley says this year it is likely there will be fire borrowing again.
During the press meeting Merkley also officially announced his endorsement of Kate Brown for the 2018 gubernatorial race.