Why we need wildfire resilient communities

In Legislative Session, Wildfire by OLCVstaff

During the 2020 Labor Day fires, my family and I had to flee our home because of a fast-approaching wildfire threatening life and property. Having to leave wasn’t even the worse part. My grandma, mother, and I all have chronic breathing problems, which were exacerbated by the inescapable smoke.

Our state needs to do more for wildfire resilience and response. Otherwise, the 2020 wildfire season—the most destructive wildfire season of our lifetimes—will become the new normal. And stories like mine, and others much worse than mine including those who lost their homes, and even their loved ones, will continue. Let’s prevent that from happening by passing sound wildfire legislation. Please send an email today urging your legislators to pass Senate Bill 762, the Wildfire Safe Bill.

You don’t have to have lived through my experience to know that Oregon’s wildfire mitigation and response systems are severely strained and desperately in need of upgrades and increased investments. We know that wildfire is a part of Northwest ecosystems and that catastrophic wildfires will likely increase due to climate change—which means we must learn how to live safely with fires by preparing our communities, developing capacity to manage future wildfires, and dedicating adequate resources to help people and nature recover.

Senate Bill 762 takes active steps to build wildfire resilience and response, making communities safer, more prepared, and ready to respond to future wildfire events.

The Wildfire Safe Bill (SB 762) modernizes Oregon’s approach by:

  • Investing in community-driven restoration of forests and rangelands to reduce wildfire risk, protect lives and property, and increase landscape resiliency.
  • Providing resources to protect vulnerable communities from wildfire smoke.
  • Adding firefighter capacity and air defense resources to provide improved wildfire response and ensure firefighter safety.
  • Ensuring safe and reliable electric utility systems before and during wildfire events.
  • Establishing defensible space standards, and providing financial resources to protect communities and critical infrastructure.
  • Creating the Oregon Wildfire Workforce Corps Program to reduce wildfire risk to communities and provide workforce training to the next generation of land managers.

The Labor Day fires burned 1.2 million acres, did $1.15 billion in damages, destroyed 5,000 homes, displaced 2,000 people, and killed nine people. While we may not be able to avoid wildfires, we should be able to protect people and property by being prepared for future wildfire seasons, and having fire resilient communities—which is why we need the Oregon State Legislature to pass the smart comprehensive wildfire bill, SB 762.

Please take a moment to tell your legislators to vote yes on and fully fund SB 762 to make Oregon Wildfire Safe.