SALEM, Ore. — At a time when more than a billion dollars has already been spent fighting wildfires this summer, fire prevention efforts are being cut.
A letter outlining timber payment reductions hit the Governor’s desk this week. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Chief Thomas Tidwell sent Governor Kitzhaber a letter explaining the sequestration will remove more than $3.9 million from the state.
The cuts are being made to the Secure Rural Schools Act, or the SRS, though education is minimally impacted. This cut really only impacts the part of SRS funding that manages state public land, which can include projects like public restrooms or park maintenance, but it can also include wildfire prevention on public forest lands.
From that fund, $3.9 million are being cut – more than half. It leaves just more than $3.3 million for those projects statewide. The letter claims a warning letter was sent on March 19th, giving the state two options: get a bill for collection or cut funds for forest management.
The governor’s office reportedly responded to that letter disputing the options and didn’t hear back from the USDA until now, confirming cuts not collections. This impacts projects on national forest land.
Click here to read the full letter sent to the Governor.