REMARKS AS PREPARED
Governor Kate Brown
Wildfire Response Council Executive Order
January 30, 2019
Thank you all so much for joining me on this misty Medford morning.
I also want to give special thank you to the local firefighters, first responders, and community leaders who have worked tirelessly this past fire season.
I also want to say thank you to Representative Pam Marsh for being here today and tirelessly fighting for her community.
Every single fire season since I first became Governor has been a historic fire season.
Each season, we’ve seen unprecedented damage to our communities, economy, and culture.
And each fire season, the Rogue Valley and southwestern Oregon have borne the brunt of it. Fire here threatens communities, smoke compromises our health, and our local economy suffers.
Just this month, a report found that Medford, Ashland, Eagle Point, and Grants Pass are among the top 10 communities in Oregon with structures threatened by wildfire.
None of us wants to accept these patterns of wildfire and drought as the new normal.
That’s why today I am signing an executive order launching my 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 the sustainable funding needed to change this pattern.
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 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 ODF, the Council, and the US Forest Service on shared stewardship prioritizing a partnership to restore healthy forests.
In Oregon, we believe that forest collaboratives are at the forefront of this partnership.
With this, I’m excited to announce a $1.5 million grant to the Rogue Forest Restoration Partnership, to be managed by the Southern Oregon Forest Collaborative.
This is part of a $6 million package for forest restoration work funded through OWEB. At the state, we want to continue to support collaborative efforts and appreciate the benefits this particular project will bring to the Rogue Valley.
Make no mistake, Oregon is a national model for fire response. In 2018, our coordinated approach put out 95% of fires before they grew past 10 acres.
But in Oregon, we don’t rest on our laurels. We fly with our own wings.
We must double down on our efforts to respond to fires.
We must assure all Oregonians we are doing everything we can to prevent forest fires and when they do happen, respond quickly.
I look forward to working with the Fire Council, and receiving their report in the fall.
For his leadership, his experience in forest management, and his concern for the future of Oregon, I’ve chosen Matt Donegan to chair the Fire Council.
As I hand the microphone to him, let me say thank you to everyone you who has protected the Rogue Valley and the South Coast in the most trying of circumstances.