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: 394569

Reported Deaths: 5243
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah60720847
Washington42359405
Marion40153516
Clackamas33040387
Lane30428361
Jackson25105363
Deschutes23795189
Umatilla15144184
Linn14859183
Douglas13523293
Josephine10278247
Yamhill9840143
Klamath9112149
Polk8325102
Benton615338
Malheur593292
Coos5768109
Columbia438056
Jefferson424366
Lincoln365852
Crook343057
Union340756
Wasco318646
Clatsop263635
Baker221833
Tillamook218046
Hood River216537
Morrow197825
Curry193939
Harney121333
Grant109116
Lake105617
Wallowa76313
Sherman1933
Gilliam1854
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5109348

Reported Deaths: 74802
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles153635127246
San Diego4091824350
Riverside3892365381
San Bernardino3762805983
Orange3352965756
Sacramento1690952452
Kern1582701828
Fresno1574692270
Santa Clara1528571928
Alameda1256281512
San Joaquin1080791835
Ventura1043091192
Contra Costa1042181056
Stanislaus919641429
Tulare867391100
San Francisco57141674
San Mateo56585631
Monterey52842626
Solano47828360
Santa Barbara47523555
Merced45309671
Sonoma43349414
Placer42458473
Imperial38932776
Kings35370367
San Luis Obispo31667360
Madera26388311
Shasta26221461
Butte25608318
Santa Cruz22402224
Yolo21722261
Marin18587249
El Dorado18448168
Sutter14646186
Napa13446106
Yuba1079891
Tehama10316131
Humboldt10294119
Nevada10112105
Mendocino864999
Lassen797656
San Benito787979
Tuolumne778491
Lake7057113
Amador580067
Siskiyou479657
Glenn458536
Calaveras445788
Del Norte377942
Colusa328321
Inyo257346
Plumas19577
Mono19034
Mariposa162218
Trinity100717
Modoc7936
Sierra2190
Unassigned1560
Alpine1080
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