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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: 4185

Reported Deaths: 153
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah114259
Marion94925
Washington73417
Clackamas30611
Deschutes1240
Umatilla1163
Linn1159
Polk9812
Lane693
Yamhill697
Jackson650
Benton555
Clatsop450
Klamath440
Malheur320
Coos310
Jefferson300
Douglas270
Wasco231
Josephine231
Hood River160
Columbia160
Lincoln120
Morrow110
Curry70
Union60
Tillamook60
Crook60
Wallowa20
Lake20
Sherman10
Harney10
Grant10
Baker10
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 109895

Reported Deaths: 4144
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles537462339
Riverside7486323
San Diego7385269
Orange6100146
San Bernardino5200204
Alameda328995
Santa Clara2731141
San Francisco253241
Kern214538
San Mateo210484
Tulare184484
Fresno171435
Santa Barbara164912
Imperial163427
Contra Costa142637
Sacramento140056
Ventura107833
San Joaquin85834
Kings7353
Stanislaus69928
Sonoma5484
Solano51722
Monterey50910
Marin45014
Merced2837
San Luis Obispo2691
Placer2149
Santa Cruz2122
Yolo21024
Napa1123
Madera1042
Humboldt993
El Dorado900
San Benito872
Del Norte450
Butte440
Sutter432
Nevada411
Shasta374
Mono351
Mendocino300
Yuba301
Lake210
Inyo201
Mariposa161
Glenn160
Calaveras150
Amador100
Siskiyou70
Colusa50
Lassen50
Tuolumne40
Tehama41
Plumas40
Alpine20
Sierra10
Trinity10
Unassigned00
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