City Club of Eugene: Fire On The River: Before, During, and After The Holiday Farm Fire
Program Date: November 13, 2020
Air Date: November 16, 2020
From The City Club of Eugene:
On the night of September 7, the Holiday Farm Fire ignited near milepost 47 on Oregon 126, along the banks of the McKenzie River.
By September 9, the US Forest Service Incident Command reported: “Red Flag conditions have caused explosive fire growth over the past two days on the Holiday Farm Fire. Firefighters have been constantly moving as they conduct rescue operations, and try to hold the fire when it’s possible. The region, the state and the entire West Coast have been heavily impacted by fires. Resources are scarce at this time.”
Over the ensuing hours and days, the Holiday Farm Fire would consume more than 173,000 acres of the McKenzie River valley, leveled hundreds of homes, and displaced valley residents across multiple communities. In the face of such extraordinary circumstances in such an extraordinary river valley, local community organizations and individuals rallied to the cause.
This program, the first of two City Club programs on the Holiday Farm fire, is focused on that inspired community response, and extraordinary natural context of the McKenzie River itself.
Joe Moll of the McKenzie River Trust will share his organization’s close relationship with the river landscape and explain how that familiarity allowed the Trust to pivot from land-conservation to emergency response assistance at the height of widespread evacuation. Research hydrologist Gordon Grant of the US Forest Service will share the deeper history of the McKenzie River itself—the unique hydrogeomorphology of this watershed and insights to how this landscape weathers crisis. And Jared Pruch, Director of Community Impact at United Way of Lane County, will share how an outpouring of community support is helping to meet emergency needs. The United Way’s Wildfire Response Fund has already invested nearly $475,000 in local recovery and response efforts.
Joe Moll has been the Executive Director of McKenzie River Trust for 15 years. He came to the Trust in January 2005, after working mostly with grizzly bears and landowners in Montana and Hokkaido, northern Japan. Outside of his work with Trust, he likes to spend as much time as he can running trails and exploring new places outdoors with his wife and three boys.
Gordon Grant is a Research hydrologist for the U.S. Forest Service at the Pacific Northwest Research Station in Corvallis, Oregon, USA, and also Courtesy Professor in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University. He holds a Ph.D from Johns Hopkins University and a BA from the Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon. Following a decade-long career as a whitewater river guide on western US rivers, he began his career with the research branch of the Forest Service in 1985, with the overarching goal of advancing understanding of how stream networks, watersheds, and entire landscapes respond to changes in streamflow, sediment transport, and wood entrainment. His research has focused on the geomorphic response of rivers to changes in stream flow and sediment transport due to land use, dams and dam removal, volcanic eruptions, and climate change.
Jared Pruch has been the Director of Community Impact at United Way of Lane County since 2017. He is responsible for directing the United Way’s community investment grant-making process, and providing leadership and support to the community impact efforts of United Way of Lane County, including the Wildfire Response Fund.