You may have recently seen a statistic floating around in the news or on social media lately that 80% of the forest acres burned in Oregon were on federal public lands. This line has most recently been aggressively trotted out by logging corporations and their PR firm, Portland-based Gallatin Public Affairs, to attack efforts to protect clean drinking water. Gallatin even managed to tell an especially pants-on-fire whopper through several rural newspapers and OPB's Think Out Loud claiming that federal public forests are completely “unmanaged.”
This week, Governor Kate Brown’s Council on Wildfire Response unveiled their final proposed management plan for the state. An earlier draft of the plan attracted headlines for its eye-popping cost - $4 billion - but little attention has been paid to the substance of the report and whether the recommendations will work.
The short answer is: probably not.
Many Oregon elementary school children have the opportunity to attend Outdoor School, essentially a blend of camping-plus-school that takes children into the forest to talk about wildlife, water, geology, and plant life. Through songs and traditions, as well as hands-on learning, it’s a fantastic experience that sticks with students for their entire lives. Oregon children are instilled at a very young age with an appreciation of nature.
It’s officially prescribed fire season in many parts of Oregon. Here is a bit of background and a run down of some of the advantages and disadvantages.
As uncomfortable as it is for many of us to accept it (human nature), wildfire is a normal process for Oregon’s forests, a process that was suppressed for much of the last century. Our forests have evolved over thousands of years with fire, with some of our tree species like the knobcone pine requiring fire to reseed.
Congress passed a spending bill last week after a month of negotiations produced a $1.3 trillion budget that will keep the federal government open for – gasp – a whole six months. The bill almost failed to become law after a whirlwind few hours that had President Trump threatening a veto, only to reverse himself, sign the bill, and pledge to never let another bill like it pass again.