Southern Oregon lawmaker proposing wildfire task force focused on fuel reduction

Senator Jeff Golden, February 2019

Salem, Ore. — Weeks after Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s newly created wildfire council met for the first time, a new task force is being organized by a Jackson County lawmaker.

Democratic State Senator Jeff Golden’s proposed Forest Health Enhancement Task Force would look at reducing the risk of wildfires. Lomakatsi Restoration Project, an Ashland based organization that develops and implements forest and watershed restoration projects is partnering with Golden.

The non-profit says the task force will focus particularly on fuel reduction and youth workforce development for forestry and forest product industries.

“We work to restore fire-prone ecosystems across thousands of acres of public and private lands by thinning forests and carefully applying prescribed burns to reduce fuel loads, creating fire safe communities,” Marko Bey, Executive Director of Lomakatsi Restoration Project says, “We do this while hiring youth and adults in rural forest-based communities creating long-term employment and career opportunities.”

“This task force will provide a vital element in the larger effort to reduce the risk of wildfires,” Senator Jeff Golden wrote in a press release, “Climate change in Oregon compels us to find new ways to reduce fuel levels in our forests across a huge area. We must explore new avenues and partnerships and find ways to support and expand the local organizations that are already doing this critical work.”

The senator and Lomakatsi will discuss the proposal during a news conference on Saturday.  The hope is that this task force will work closely with the governor and the wildfire council to coordinate efforts.

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