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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.

Confirmed Cases: 41348

Reported Deaths: 649
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah8955159
Marion5684107
Washington561274
Umatilla332844
Clackamas306165
Lane229427
Malheur189737
Jackson16176
Deschutes109813
Yamhill98315
Linn78815
Polk64315
Jefferson6009
Morrow5436
Lincoln51113
Union4652
Benton4336
Klamath4053
Wasco34715
Douglas3425
Hood River2771
Josephine2623
Columbia2531
Clatsop2370
Coos2360
Baker1143
Crook1002
Tillamook700
Curry571
Wallowa402
Lake340
Harney210
Sherman180
Gilliam110
Grant110
Wheeler10
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 898799

Reported Deaths: 17305
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2968216974
Riverside657571279
San Bernardino617261070
Orange580101440
San Diego53928867
Kern33669416
Fresno30471436
Sacramento25094482
Santa Clara23881388
Alameda23133456
San Joaquin21528488
Contra Costa18413240
Stanislaus17509396
Tulare17425284
Ventura14124162
Imperial12700336
San Francisco12032140
Monterey1128487
San Mateo11002159
Santa Barbara9715120
Merced9439154
Sonoma9163134
Kings820183
Solano728674
Marin7045128
Madera498174
San Luis Obispo412132
Placer408857
Yolo314458
Butte304652
Santa Cruz275325
Napa192815
Shasta183930
Sutter183712
San Benito143215
El Dorado13084
Yuba129310
Mendocino112121
Tehama8528
Lassen7641
Lake67915
Glenn6523
Nevada6038
Humboldt5619
Colusa5496
Calaveras33917
Amador31716
Tuolumne2624
Inyo22715
Siskiyou1880
Del Norte1781
Mono1762
Mariposa782
Plumas630
Modoc290
Trinity260
Sierra60
Alpine30
Unassigned00
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