Oregon Department of Forestry News Release
Local media distribution
When motorists drive past the Department of Forestry office in Veneta in the months ahead, Western Lane District Forester Link Smith asks them not to jump to conclusions about what they see.
“We are building a new maintenance shop and fire engine storage building to replace the old 1930s-era structure, but it comes at no cost to Oregon taxpayers,” he said.
The $789,000 expense has been covered entirely by proceeds from the previous sale of property owned by the district. A seven-acre parcel was sold in 2008 to the city of Veneta. It was originally purchased by the Department in 1945 to serve as a landing field for airplanes, but has been used as the town’s youth baseball and soccer fields for decades.
Another lot to the south of the office was sold for the development of low-income housing in 2005. Long before that, bunkhouses for forestry employees and firefighters stood on the property.
The existing shop building is badly in need of replacement for two reasons, Fire Protection Supervisor Tom Soward explained.
“The roof is collapsing and the support pillars have decayed,” he said. “When it snows, we hold our breath hoping it won’t collapse.”
It was built by fire crews in the 1930s.
Even if it were structurally sound, the shop is too small for current needs. Modern wildland fire engines are wider and taller than their predecessors of 40 years ago, making it difficult to do necessary repairs.
“We have to fold in the mirrors just to get an engine into the stall,” he said, “and the larger ones are too tall even to bring into the building.”
The new shop will be constructed on the site of the old one, with an expected completion date of December 2012.