Where There's Smoke, There's Fire

Alan DeBoer

Hello Friends,

The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) maintains an interactive map on its website that shows all the large forest fires burning throughout the Pacific Northwest. As of Monday, August 28, that map shows multiple large fires in the region.  

Those fires parallel the I-5 corridor, with many burning east of Portland, Salem, Eugene and Roseburg. The Mt. Hood, Willamette, Umpqua, Rogue River and Siskiyou national forests all have blazes in their vicinities.

Another, the Chetco Bar Fire, has grown up to over 100,000 acres and was designated as the nation’s top firefighting priority last week. Its area is now larger than the City of Portland, as its flames rage just a few short miles away from the City of Brookings. Multiple homes have been lost in the devastation as residents evacuate and firefighters converge from all over in hopes of combatting and containing it.

Over 300,000 acres have burned so far throughout Oregon this summer, and the costs of fighting these fires has already exceeded $100 million between state and federal agencies.

The Chetco Bar Fire is concentrated in the state’s southwest corner and a series of other fires rages along Oregon’s border with California, in the area between Cave Junction and Ashland. Because of all this, the surrounding skies have been filled with smoke and other related particulates for weeks.  

Such conditions present health problems for some of our most vulnerable citizens, including children, those with asthma and the elderly. Unfortunately, this has become far too common throughout the years, as we struggle to find the proper balance between responsible forest management and the need to preserve what remains for future generations.

Many of our public lands were initially designated for multiple use in order to maximize the public benefit of the unique treasures we are so blessed to have in this state. These lands were intended for the recreational enjoyment of Oregonians and the many tourists and visitors who come here every year.

Any decisions regarding the management of our forests should be done with public health considerations in mind. Many people who reside in our region choose to do so because of the air quality that we usually enjoy. But we must not ignore the environmental hazards that accompany the catastrophic wildfires that seem to sweep across the area entirely too often.

What’s obvious now is that we cannot continue doing what we’ve been doing and need to try something else.

Yours Truly,

Sen. Alan DeBoer

Senate District 3

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1703
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, S-421, Salem, Oregon 97301
Email: sen.AlanDeBoer@oregonlegislature.gov
Website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/deboer