A Forest Resource Timber Rally Saturday will discuss an array of issues related to the Chetco Bar Fire of 2017, including increased salvage logging, better resource management at the national level, fire mitigation and job creation, updates on the fire recovery, reforestation and the upcoming fire season, among other topics.
The outdoor town hall begins at 4 p.m., following a new fire department event connected with the Azalea Festival, in the parking lot of the former Ray’s Food Place at Fifth and Chetco avenues in Brookings.
Speakers will include rally co-sponsor county Commissioner Court Boice, who has been pleading with commissioners to act and implement better management before the next megafire strikes the county; and State Rep. David Brock Smith, who has been fighting on behalf of fire mitigation in Salem.
South County resident Jeri Lynn Thompson, whose family home was burned in the 191,125-acre conflagration and Christopher Paasch — both of whom are vying for a county commissioner seat in November — will also address the crowd.
Guy McMahan, a founder of the Curry Wildfire Prevention group, and former County Commissioner George Rhodes will discuss the organization and fire safety; and Connie Hunter will address the need for community resilience and gaps in the emergency food system here.
Jackson County Commissioner Colleen Roberts will talk about forestry issues throughout southern Oregon and what her county is doing that might be effective here. She will also address more effective communication with state and federal agencies.
Others will address disasters, in general.
Kymmie Scott, the Tolowa Dee-Ni Nation’s emergency services manager, will address the Community Emergency Response Team’s work in local disasters, and Jeremy Dumire, Curry county’s emergency services coordinator, will discuss disaster preparedness. Newly-appointed Brookings City Councilor Ron Hedenskog will also discuss the city’s role in emergency management during the Chetco Bar Fire and how it worked with other agencies during that time.
Non-profit organizations related to the timber industry and fire prevention will also host informational booths.
Sponsors of the event maintain that at the local level, more extensive salvage logging must be conducted to prevent another fire from rapid progression through old, abandoned snags, changing the U.S. Forest Service policy of “letting fires burn” naturally in the backcountry and doing more fire mitigation in undergrowth to protect homes.
The Chetco Bar Fire started in the scar of the 2002 Biscuit Fire, which was 30 miles from the city limits of Brookings. Last year’s wildfire, however burned to within 5 miles of town.