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Gov. Brown signs $220 million wildfire prevention bill

Senate Bill 762 will provide more than $220 million to help the state improve wildfire preparedness.
Credit: KGW

PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill Friday to help improve the state's wildfire preparedness. The signing of the bill comes as Oregon deals with drought and a destructive wildfire season.

Senate Bill 762 will provide more than $220 million to help the state improve wildfire preparedness by "creating fire-adapted communities, developing safe and effective responses, and increasing the resiliency of Oregon's landscapes."

As of July 30, 16 large fires are burning in Oregon and Washington, according to the Pacific Northwest Region of the Forest Service. The nation's largest wildfire is the Bootleg Fire, which has burned over 413,000 acres northeast of Klamath Falls in southern Oregon.

RELATED: Bootleg Fire resources hold steady as firefighters rotate out and demobilize

Brown said nine major fires have burned across the state in 2021 so far — twice as many as this time last year.

"Those on the frontline will tell you that the Bootleg Fire has behaved like no fire they have ever seen before, doubling in size each of the first several days and creating its own weather pattern," Brown said.

Brown visited crews battling the Bootleg Fire on Thursday and said the state has to rethink how it fights wildfires in an era of hotter, larger blazes.

Earlier in the morning on Friday, Gov. Brown joined a virtual roundtable discussion on climate change and wildfire season with President Joe Biden Friday morning. Six other governors from western states — including Washington Gov. Jay Inslee — also attended the meeting. 

Inslee pointed to Biden's infrastructure plan as a step in the right direction in fighting climate change. But Inslee said his biggest worry is that Biden's plan to cut carbon emissions won't clear Congress.

“That’s going to ultimately decide whether these forests survive in the next century,” Inslee said.