MEDFORD, Ore. — Signing an executive order during a press conference at the Medford Air Tanker Base on Wednesday, Governor Kate Brown made official a response to what she called "the new normal" — a group dedicated to evaluating the state's response in cases of devastating wildfires.
"Oregon's firefighting approach leads the nation in effectiveness," said Governor Brown. "However, wildfire dynamics are changing and it is never too soon to evaluate the approach to wildfire education, prevention, suppression, attack, and community recovery."
The new Oregon Wildfire Response Council aims to examine the state's current system for wildfire response, and then figure out ways that might be more effective in defending communities and the environment from the threat of fire.
According to a statement from the Governor's office, the Wildfire Response Council will issue a report on the subject in September of 2019 — near the end of what is sure to be another eventful fire season — with recommendations for "the future of Oregon's wildfire response infrastructure."
A recent report commissioned by the U.S. Forest Service found that communities in Southern and parts of Central Oregon were by far the most at risk for destruction from wildfire exposure.
Governor Brown also announced a $1.5 million Focused Investment Partnership (FIP) grant from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) to the Rogue Forest Restoration Partnership — part of a $6 million pledge through 2025 to speed up dry forest restoration and wildfire fuels management on federal and non-federal lands.