Senator demands Trump action against wildfires

There is a 400% increase in wildfires this year

An air tanker drops fire retardant over a wild fire at the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest between Grants Pass and Cave Junction in Oregon. (AP Photo/John Luerding)
An air tanker drops fire retardant over a wild fire at the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest between Grants Pass and Cave Junction in Oregon. (AP Photo/John Luerding)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Wildfires have already burned more than 2 million acres this year — a staggering number much higher than last year — and our season hasn’t even started for Oregon and Washington.

In this Aug. 21, 2015 photo, a firefighting crew member, background, stands beyond a firing operation burning the understory fuel along Highway 180 just north of the Hume Lake turnoff in the Sequoia National Forest. California’s largest wildfire burning near the popular Hume Lake in the Central Sierra Nevada is expected to rage through the holiday weekend, and the forestry officials encourage campers to set up their tents elsewhere. (Eric Paul Zamora/The Fresno Bee via AP)

Data shows that there is a 400% increase in wildfires this year, drawing enough concern from Washington Senator Maria Cantwell that she decided to write a letter to President Donald Trump demanding action. (Read the letter at the bottom of this article)

“We need to get serious about fixing the fire-borrowing now and investing in our forest,” Cantwell said at the 2017 American Forest Resource Council meeting. “The president should understand the science behind our national forest and the science today is telling us that we are seeing record fires already and we aren’t even in the big aspects of fire season yet, so it’s time to act, listen to the science.”

Travis Joseph with the AFRC agrees.

“We need to invest in our forest to create jobs and improve forest health and resiliency and I think [Cantwell] is spot on,” Joseph said. “I think the federal government needs to look into the investments into these land management agencies for an opportunity for tax payers, as an opportunity for the U.S. Treasury, an opportunity to improve the management of public lands.”

After many active wildfires in the Pacific Northwest, Cantwell wants to make sure we are working on preventing forest fires and not finding money after the damage is done.

Cantwell said sometimes it’s hard to get those on the east side of the United States on board with what is happening on the West Coast. The magnitude of a wildfire is sometimes hard for them to imagine.

“We are very concerned the catastrophic nature of fire in the past several years is going to continue, so don’t reduce the fire budget, invest in reducing fuel in our forest,” Cantwell said.