REMARKS AS PREPARED
Governor Kate Brown
Governor’s Council on Wildfire Response
Monday, March 18, 2019
Thank you all so much for joining us this morning.
I’m delighted to see so many coming together to tackle the pressing issue of wildfire. The folks in this room bring deep experience and backgrounds in forestry and fire-fighting — but also business, agriculture, and government.
Our federal partners are key to this effort, as well. I am so grateful that we are joined by U.S. Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment Jim Hubbard, and Chief of the Forest Service Vicki Christiansen.
And I’d like to recognize our Council Chair Matt Donegan. Matt, thank you for your leadership. Not only have you gotten your hands wet, you dove into the deep end.
Every single fire season since I first became Governor has been a historic fire season.
Each season, we’ve seen unprecedented damage to our homes, livelihoods, and Oregon’s natural environment.
Fire threatens our communities — and lives. As you all know, we unfortunately lost a farmer last summer as he worked to create a fire break to protect his neighbor’s land.
Smoke compromises our health. And our local economies suffer.
I am not willing to accept these patterns of wildfire and drought, and neither are you. But we need to be prepared and proactive to get ahead of this threat.
That’s why I have convened this Council on Wildfire Response.
We need to make sure we are doing everything we can. That we are employing the best practices in the country. And that we are building the support among all Oregonians for sustainable funding needed to change this pattern.
And we are investing in new tools, technology, and people power.
The good news is we have great science and research to help us find our way. And you all bring the lenses of public safety and health, ecological and economic integrity, and environmental justice to this fight.
Thank you so much for your willingness to invest time and energy.
In 2016, along with State Forester Peter Daugherty, I signed a comprehensive Good Neighbor Authority agreement. The GNA enables state employees to accelerate the pace and scale of forest restoration projects on federal land.
I made this program permanent with a $4.4 million proposal in my first biennial budget in 2017.
But, we know that many thousands of acres of forest lands are unhealthy due to past management practices, and we know we need to do more.
That’s why I’m looking forward to working with the Department of Forestry, the Council and the U.S. Forest Service on “shared stewardship,” a partnership between the state and the USFS to restore healthy federal forests.
In Oregon, forest collaboratives are at the forefront of this partnership. The Deschutes Forest Collaborative was recently nationally recognized for its work in the Deschutes National Forest in helping prevent the Milli fire of 2017 from reaching the town of Sisters.
Make no mistake, Oregon is a national model for fire response. In 2018, our coordinated approach put out nintey-three percent of fires before they made it past ten acres.
But we must assure all Oregonians we are doing everything we can on prevention and response. That we are rising to this challenge with every tool in our toolkit to protect our forests and rangelands.
To keep Oregonians and our communities safe.
I look forward to the work of this Council, and your fall report.