Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed an executive order Wednesday creating a new council that will examine the efficacy of the state’s response to wildfire.
The Oregon Wildfire Response Council is charged with reporting their findings no later than Sept. 30.
“We need to make sure we’re doing everything we can, that we are employing the best practices in the entire country, and that we are building support among all Oregonians for the sustainable funding needed to change this pattern,” Brown said.
According to the governor’s office, the panel will look at “wildfire education, prevention, suppression, attack, and community recovery.”
The governor announced the executive order in Medford.
“Each season, the Rogue Valley and southwestern Oregon has born the brunt of it. Fire here threatens our communities, smoke compromises our health and our local economy certainly suffers,” Brown said.
The governor named Matt Donegan at chair of the council. Donegan has a background in forestry and timber investment management. He also previously served as president of the Oregon Board of Higher Education.
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners held a recent hearing where they heard concerns from residents about increasing smoke and forest and wildfire management. The general consensus from the public was that officials needed to be more proactive to protect communities.
The governor announced a $1.5 million grant to the Rogue Forest Restoration Partnership. The money will be used by Southern Oregon Forest Restoration Collaborative and partners to move forward with restoration and fuels management work in the region.
“We must assure all Oregonians that we are doing everything we can to both prevent forest fires and when they do happen, respond very quickly,” the governor said.