Senator Wyden, U.S. Agriculture Secretary attend fire briefing i - KPTV - FOX 12

Senator Wyden, U.S. Agriculture Secretary attend fire briefing in Portland

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Local and National leaders are joining in the conversation about what to do with the massive wildfires burning across the Northwest.

Senator Ron Wyden and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack attended a fire briefing on Friday morning in Portland, and they said it's all about fire prevention.

During the briefing, they said the problem is most of the funds that go into maintaining our forests and preventing wildfires are currently being spent on fighting the fires.

The USDA is spending an excess of 10 million dollars a day on fighting the fires here in Oregon, and that number is expected to grow in the weeks ahead.

Senator Wyden and Secretary Vilsack said focusing more on prevention efforts is key in order to avoid another fire season like this one.

"My concern has long been that we are dealing with a terrible trifecta. It is a combination of very high temperatures, drought, and enormous fuel build-up on the forest floor," said Senator Wyden. "My concern is, and what the Secretary and I have been discussing is this could be the new norm."

Secretary Vilsack said the Forest Service, as a result of this new norm has seen a 115 percent increase in the number of personnel fighting fires, and a 38 percent decrease in the number of people doing all the other work. And all that other work, is the work of restoration and resiliency to be done.

Secretary Vilsack said over half of the Forest Service budget has gone to combating wildfires this year, compared to just 16 percent of the budget 10 years ago.

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