Coronavirus undercuts Oregon’s wood products industry, Forestry Department budget

By Ted Sickinger| The Oregonian/OregonLive

When Republican lawmakers walked out of the Oregon Capitol and brought an abrupt end to this year’s legislative session, a massive request from the Department of Forestry fell off the table.

Not even halfway through Oregon’s two-year budget cycle, the agency had blown through most of its money for the entire period and claimed it would run out entirely by May. State Forester Peter Daugherty says the agency needs between $52 million and $132 million.

The request would maintain the agency’s current programs and gird it through the upcoming fire season. However, the millions wouldn’t cover the expanded forest cleanup and wildfire prevention work that Gov. Kate Brown has pushed for based on recommendations from a wildfire council she empaneled last year.

It also doesn’t account for the coronavirus. The pandemic’s impact on the agency could be considerable, both financially and operationally.