Suppression is not enough
I attended the county commissioners’ hearing about smoke/fire Dec. 11. According to the article on Dec. 28, it appears the only action the BOC took from this was increasing suppression efforts.
While suppression effort increases are important, we are facing hotter, drier summers and increases in fuels. We cannot change the weather, but we can decrease the fuels. Many speakers, forestry professionals, addressed prevention strategies, including under-story clearing to keep fires on the ground. If this management strategy was employed for 100 yards along all existing roadways, firebreaks would be developed. The county has the ability to mow dry fuels along roadways, require bare land along urban-rural interface to be mowed to create a 100-yard buffer (i.e., the grass fire that threatened Costco).
The extreme intensity of these fires has not been part of the prior experience. Suppression alone is not enough; there are areas too rugged to risk the lives of our firefighters. The commissioners should use their leadership to work for increases in forest management in the off season and work with our representatives in Salem for improvements in the Oregon Forest Practices Act, which is up for evaluation in 2019.