Date: Friday, March 16th, 2018
Time: 12:00pm – 1:15pm
Location: UO Academic Extension at the Baker Center, 975 High Street, Eugene
Speakers: Tracy Beck, Supervisor of the Willamette National Forest
Randy Green, Fire Management Officer (retired) US Forest Service
Craig Patterson, resident, McKenzie Bridge
2017 was a notable wildfire season, from the United States, to Canada and on several additional continents. In Greenland, even melted peat bogs had burned. This was possibly an unprecedented phenomenon! California’s wildfire season was the most destructive wildfire season on record, with dramatic and sometimes deadly fires moving fast through populated areas in both northern and southern regions of the state. Oregon experienced a total of 1,069 reported wildfires that burned a total area of 451,863 acres. The catalyst for these fires was the abnormal weather pattern that persisted throughout 2017.
2017 was the most expensive firefighting year on record for the US Forest Service with over 2 billion dollars spent. Firefighting is consuming a huge portion of the agency’s overall budget, From 15 % in 1995, to 57% in 2017, stalling projects that might serve to prevent harm caused by wildfire.
Our panelists will discuss the trends in firefighting and changing attitudes about fire suppression. Will we continue the fight against wildfire as in recent years, or shift the focus to working with fire? Is a changing climate going to render the task of protecting forests and populated areas impossible? What changes in forest management might help?