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City Club of Eugene: Lessons from 2017 California and Oregon Wildfires

Recorded On: March 16, 2018

Air Date: March 19, 2018

2017 was a notable wildfire season, from the United States, to Canada and on several additional continents. In Greenland, even peat bogs burned. 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, jumping from 15% in 1995 up to 57% in the year 2017, stalling projects that might serve to prevent harm caused by wildfire.

Our panelists 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?


Tracy Beck, Willamette National Forest Supervisor

Randy Green, Fire Management Officer (retired) US Forest Service

Craig Patterson, resident, McKenzie Bridge

Copyright KLCC, 2018