Brad Withrow-Robinson, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension, Benton, Linn & Polk Counties.
The Labor Day fires’ impacts will be felt throughout region, well beyond the footprint of the fires. It will likely be harder for family forest landowners to find contractors, seedlings and other resources to get projects done on their property for a while, wherever they are. Why? The fires are already putting demands on local resources and infrastructure. This includes loggers and logging equipment, mill capacity, and the ODF Stewardship Foresters who are overseeing many post fire responses. We can also expect to see other resources tested for the next several years, including seedling availability and nursery capacity to produce them. Shortages of many of these shared resources will be felt across much of state as assets are reassigned or moved around. Recovery will take time.
Not surprisingly, we are also getting calls about preventing and preparing for wildfire. The new Fire Program will coordinate our work to expand public fire preparedness and smoke readines. These will be the emphasis of our program next spring. We will work with key partners including Oregon Department of Forestry, County governments, local Fire Districts, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Soil & Water Conservation Districts and Watershed Councils among others. There is need toprepare at the home, community and landscape level.
In the meantime, begin your journey at the Fire Program website (https://extension.oregonstate.edu/fire-program). Under the Fire Adapted Communities banner, follow the links to “Before a Wildfire”, and “During a Wildfire” to start learning how to prepare. Also, look at the section on Landscape-scale Land Management, which is how we start needing to look at and address fire preparedness.