Fire and Smoke Summit; understanding Oregon’s wildfire situation

ASHLAND, Ore.– Hundreds of people gathered at Southern Oregon University’s Stevenson Union in Ashland Saturday morning for a Fire and Smoke Summit organized by State Representative Pam Marsh.

Pooling some 15 local and statewide speakers together, the summit was meant to inform the public about southern Oregon’s wildfire situation. As attendee Bobbie Wild described it, the summit was, “Very illuminating. Very reassuring in some ways.”

In an interview with NBC5 News, Rep. Marsh described why it was necessary to hold this summit.

“It’s been a very difficult summer, we’ve suffered economically, our health has suffered, we are looking at the future trying to figure what kind of community we can be if we have persistent condition like this every year,” she said.

Covering topics ranging from forest management and public health to the economy and climate change, the panel brought together groups from across the spectrum.

“One thing was really wonderful for me was just to get the history of fires and how it’s brought to us to where we are today,” said Wild.

Another attendee, Heidi Filson agreed and said she came out to learn what steps were being taken for forest management as well as the economy.

“Part of what drew me here today was what do we do about the economic impact because I know a lot of business owners in the community and it’s having an impact on people,” she said.

With many gathering as much information as they could, the summit hoped to provide a sense of relief that there might be a way out of this.

“Wanting to come up with ideas and have a lot of ideas,” said Filson. “Just the walking into the room and seeing how many people in our community came out today and care about this is pretty optimistic.”

But as much information as there was to give, the summit provided some possible answers but no simple solution.

“This isn’t gonna go away soon and that all the things that we do, it will take a while,” said Wild. “There’s no quick fix, that we have a long term, long road ahead of us.”

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