U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley is agreeing with Ron Wyden in efforts to allocate more funding for air tankers for fighting wildfires. On Sunday, two of the 11 air tankers ear-marked for use this fire season crashed. One was a very rough landing; the other a fatal crash the killed two men from Boise. That plane was 50 years old.
Senator Ron Wyden says this makes a bad situation even worse. And Senator Merkley spoke this morning with our news department about the problem: KBND: Funding is tight in so many areas, is this a tough sell on Capitol Hill?” Wyden: “I don't think many Senators would start out understanding it very well; especially if they don't live in a forest fire state. But it’s our job to education them. I think we have enough Senators in wildfire states.” Senator Wyden says in 2006, the forest service had 44 large air tankers in their fleet. Today, it has just 11 under contracts many of which are old. After the two crashes this past Sunday the company that contracts with the forest service grounded the nine remaining tankers.