As I sit down to write this, smoke sits thick across Oregon as historic wildfires continue to burn, and the rain forecast for this week has not yet begun to fall. Less than a week from tonight, our Southern Oregon Land Use Leadership Initiative was set to meet (virtually, having already adapted to COVID) and discuss the subject of—you guessed it—forests and wildfire. That meeting has of course been postponed, as some of our LULI partners and participants are instead grappling with the loss of their homes and offices. Thousands of Oregonians are experiencing the same loss, and hundreds of thousands of acres remain ablaze.
Governor Brown has declared a statewide State of Emergency for Oregon, and has requested, today, a Presidential Disaster Declaration as well. Over the last few days, I have been in touch with my colleagues from the Governor's Council on Wildfire Response, including Oregon's new Fire Marshal Mariana Ruiz-Temple, who served on the council's land use subcommittee, which I chaired. While it is incumbent upon us to do everything in our power to prevent another wildfire season like this one, it is even more incumbent upon us in this moment to focus on community support for recovery, and that is what we are doing.
In addition to the large-scale relief efforts underway through Red Cross and United Way, numerous local efforts have sprung up through our regional partners, likethis one in Benton County. Two others are featured below, and we'll share more on our Facebook page as they arise. For farmers, the OSU Small Farms Program has put together this resource page. You might also take time today to take a look at the state's official wildfire resource page, and while you're there, be sure tovisit this page where you can sign up for your county's official alert system.
We'll be back in October with regular news of our full body of work around the state, including issue and ballot updates as we head into the election. Until then, be safe, be well, and thank you for being a Friend.
P.S. Please note that our offices remain closed while my staff and I remain fully accessible by phone and email from our home offices. Please feel free to contact us at any time.
Oregon's Wildfire Future
Preparing Oregon for future wildfire seasons requires immediate action. Our weekend blogpost will walk you through what we've been doing to scale back the risks, and shows you what still needs to be done.
If you live in the Portland area, you can contribute to statewide relief efforts by dropping off needed items at Sierra Club (map). They're coordinating distribution to wildfire-impacted communities across Oregon.
We're headquartered in Portland, but our Grants Pass field office and partners in Southern Oregon have been especially hard-hit. A relief effort is now underway to help those partners and others, and you can help.
You've heard of firefighters saving cats from trees. How about saving calves from burning blackberries? To everyone who has been working around the clock to protect all of us, thank you—you are true Oregon heroes!