Report: Oregon wildfire costs 'will exceed tens of billions' over 20 years

A report from the Governor's Council on Wildfire Response found that actual, comprehensive costs are more than 10 times greater than immediate firefighting costs.

Posted: Nov 12, 2019 4:43 PM

SALEM, Ore. — The cost of fighting and recovering from wildfires in Oregon will rise beyond the tens of billions of dollars over roughly the next two decades, a new report from the Governor's Council on Wildfire Response found.

While direct firefighting costs in a "high-fire" season rise above $500 million, the report found that related costs — like the resulting impact of smoke and fire on tourism and other industries, plus the recovery costs for areas damaged in the fires — are about 11 times greater, on average. As a result, a single year of particularly active wildfires can cost the state several billion dollars, the report found.

“The devastation left in the wake of recent wildfires across the west is yet another alarming reminder of how this generation and the next will bear the costs of climate change — in lost dollars, homes, and lives," Governor Kate Brown said in a statement. "If we do not act now, Oregon’s grandchildren will be left to pay an appalling price.”

Governor Brown created the Council on Wildfire Response through an executive order in January, following the devastating 2018 fire season. The Council was asked to come up with recommendations and a strategy to deal with the impacts from wildfires and smoke.

The Council includes representatives from fire and forestry agencies, local governments, the timber industry, politicians, and a sampling of major businesses based in Oregon.

During the 2018 fire season, the combined state and federal costs for directly fighting the wildfires totaled roughly $533 million, the Governor's office said.

"Over a century of land management practices that have allowed fuel for wildfires to accumulate far beyond historic conditions, combined with the climate impacts that have made fire seasons longer, drier, and hotter, create significant challenges for all Oregonians," the Governor's office said. "Direct wildfire suppression costs for the Oregon Department of Forestry over the last seven years have grown sixfold."

Another report cited by the Governor's office found that the healthcare costs of wildfire smoke in Oregon during the year 2012 alone amounted to more than $2 billion.

The Council's report estimated that restoring 5.6 million acres of forest lands in order to reduce the risk of wildfires would require an investment of $4 billion over the next 20 years between the public and private sectors. The report recommends that the state immediately set aside $145 million for wildfire costs posed by the next two years.

“This report is a somber reminder that, left unchecked, warming temperatures across the globe will create a year-round risk of wildfires — with a price tag to match,” said Governor Brown. “Make no mistake: if we do not act to address the climate crisis immediately, we will quickly face the prospect of paying the exorbitant costs of wildfire response during a fire season that never ends."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 174501

Reported Deaths: 2460
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah34800568
Washington23412229
Marion20116299
Clackamas15311204
Lane11554144
Jackson9904127
Umatilla796883
Deschutes708272
Linn414263
Yamhill408775
Klamath345259
Polk342952
Malheur342758
Josephine305462
Douglas304365
Benton273218
Jefferson206432
Coos196831
Columbia153826
Union141124
Lincoln129820
Wasco128928
Hood River112429
Morrow107915
Clatsop8918
Crook87819
Baker85614
Curry5939
Tillamook5803
Lake4137
Grant4064
Harney3056
Wallowa1575
Sherman570
Gilliam561
Wheeler251
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3716579

Reported Deaths: 60994
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles122864123628
Riverside2972154525
San Bernardino2945774550
San Diego2748113674
Orange2688694891
Santa Clara1169712013
Kern1078251322
Sacramento1010581646
Fresno1005001643
Alameda852561477
Ventura802301000
San Joaquin714311334
Contra Costa66927782
Stanislaus603831028
Tulare49383830
Monterey43267357
San Mateo41107560
San Francisco35993517
Santa Barbara33863446
Solano31875239
Merced31196452
Sonoma29679311
Imperial27962719
Kings22766245
Placer21751283
San Luis Obispo20917256
Madera16250239
Santa Cruz15554204
Marin13860226
Yolo13559199
Shasta11677217
Butte11549196
El Dorado9719109
Napa965479
Sutter9268109
Yuba609844
San Benito598263
Lassen566924
Tehama543056
Nevada444775
Tuolumne406664
Mendocino398747
Amador362151
Humboldt358737
Lake340643
Glenn235525
Colusa219816
Calaveras205551
Siskiyou194021
Inyo141738
Del Norte12747
Mono12734
Plumas6906
Modoc4884
Mariposa4247
Trinity3985
Sierra1100
Alpine880
Unassigned330
Medford
Partly Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 45°
Brookings
Partly Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 43°
Medford
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 45°
Medford
Partly Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 45°
Klamath Falls
Clear
27° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 27°
Very warm Sunday
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events