ASHLAND, Ore. -- Oregon State Senator Jeff Golden is proposing a statewide task force for wildfires. The Forest Health Enhancement Task Force is in its early stages but its goal is to create ways to better protect communities from wildfires. Senator Golden said last year’s devastating fire season was a wakeup call for many especially after seeing the Camp fire wipe out all of Paradise, California.
“It’s a new phenomenon of cities and towns burning down. Our cities, Ashland, Medford and some of the others really have the same kind of risk. They have woodlands nearby much like the other towns did. So we are working hard to do something about that,” Senator Golden said. “We're in an emergency and I think it has to do with the buildup of forest management practices that weren't that sound and climate change which we are too slow to react to. So all of that is coming together such that we have to move really fast and really creatively."
Another goal is to get young people trained in forestry. The Lomakatsi Restoration Project was asked to be a part of planning since it gets young members of tribal communities involved.
"We want to increase this workforce and continue to adjust the wildland fire and fuels issue and the need but also build resilient communities, healthy communities, socioeconomically sound communities through job development and workforce capacity development," said Lomakatsi Restoration Project’s Executive Director Marko Bey.
Senator Golden hopes more organizations, even insurance and utility companies, invest in this task force.