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Governor Forms Oregon Wildfire Response Council 

Bend's mayor among members of new council aimed at preventing and stopping wildfires

Devastating fires and pervasive smoke are becoming something of a norm during Oregon summers. To address the issue, Gov. Kate Brown has formed a new statewide wildfire council.

Today, Brown announced the formation of the Oregon Wildfire Response Council, tasked with reviewing Oregon's model for wildfire preparedness, prevention and response. The group met for the first time in Portland today. The council will oversee the state's current models, making judgements on whether the systems in place are going to be adequate in addressing increasing numbers of wildfires, along with changes happening in the climate.

click to enlarge Members of the National Guard practice containing wildfires at the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training in Salem, August 2018. - ARMY NATIONAL GUARD PHOTO BY JOHN HUGHEL
  • Army National Guard photo by John Hughel
  • Members of the National Guard practice containing wildfires at the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training in Salem, August 2018.

"Every fire season since I first became governor has been a historic fire season, and each season, we've seen unprecedented damage to our homes, livelihoods, and Oregon's natural environment," said Brown in a news release. "We need to be prepared and proactive to get ahead of this threat, which is why I have convened this council on wildfire response. We need to make sure we are doing everything we can, employing best practices, and investing in new tools, technology and people power."



The governor's roster of Council members includes Bend Mayor Sally Russell, Tricia Connelly—president of IAFF Local 227 (the union representing Bend Fire), representatives from the timber industry, environmental groups such as 1000 Friends and the Nature Conservancy, a representative from the renter's association—the Community Alliance of Tenants, and representatives from other industry and governmental groups.

The first meeting was dedicated to identifying threats and setting goals, with input from various federal partners, including Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, Vicki Christiansen, and Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, Jim Hubbard.

The Council has three different subcommittees focused on mitigation, suppression and recovery. The council and its subcommittees will present its recommendations to upgrade the current systems to Brown by September 30, 2019. 
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