Oregon receives wildfire insurance offer

Firefighting costs are expected to increase drastically under $25 million policy.

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Protecting the state from wildfires costs more than ever after two consecutive fiery summers and a historically dry winter.

The state was offered a $25 million policy, the Bend Bulletin reports.

The Department of Forestry and landowners would pay a $3.75 million premium, up from around $2 million last year. The state would then be on the hook for $50 million in wildfire fighting costs before coverage under the Lloyd’s of London plan would kick in if the upcoming season is bad.

The offer still needs approval from the department and a group of owners of private timberland that pay for the coverage, but it brings assurance as parts of Oregon enter a fourth year of drought that will bring a long wildfire season to the Pacific Northwest.

Specifics will not be up for negotiation, fire officials said in the BB story.

In the Klamath Basin, growers are preparing for a dry season.

The announcement of the amount of available water will be made next week, but affected parties aren’t optimistic, Associated Press reports.

Natural Resources Conservation Service maps show the Klamath Basin with 95 percent of normal precipitation, but only 7 percent of normal snowpack. Although the project’s main reservoir is close to full, two others are not, and low snowpack means reduced flows into rivers as the summer wears on.

Since 2001, farms on the project have had to share water with fish protected by the U.S. Endangered Species Act, leading to irrigation cutbacks in dry years. The past three years have been dry. Last year, the project got 61 percent of the water needed for full operations, and many expect even less this year.

What do you think: Are drought conditions the new normal in Oregon? Vote here.