Congressman Greg Walden Addresses Forest Fires in Southern Oregon at Chamber Forum
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Clear Skies for Southern Oregon Keynote Speaker: Congressman Greg Walden, U.S. Representative, Oregon's 2nd Congressional District
“Wildfires pose a great threat to Southern Oregon,” said Congressman Greg Walden. During his Chamber Forum presentation, he stated that wildfires have burned millions of acres and negatively affected many local businesses and industries. “Southern Oregon’s tourism industry lost $3 million,” explained Walden. He said several businesses suffered negative financial impacts; wineries lost contracts, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival cancelled numerous outdoors shows and a local outdoor recreation store had to close its doors. According to Walden, an analysis of the 2017 wildfire season revealed 600 jobs were lost due to the wildfires.
In addition to the economic fallout, Walden said Oregonians are enduring another side effect of wildfires: the unrelenting smoke. “By last July, Southern Oregon had the worst air quality in the country,” he added. Walden told Forum attendees it was time to set a goal of clear skies for Southern Oregon and what his plan of action entailed. “First, we need to recognize the problem is in the management of our federal lands,” said Walden. He stated that better forest management policies of federal lands, and the removal of dead trees and debris, are key to combating wildfires. “There is data from the U.S. Forest Service which shows that proper forest management reduces wildfires,” Walden added. Walden noted that while progress has been made with forest management reform, there is still more work on the horizon. “Oregon needs to do what we have always done — focus on innovation, conservation, adaptation and preparation,” Walden said. Walden explained that Oregon is leading the way in new energy sources, such as solar, wind, hydropower and natural gas. “Now we need to lead the way in forest management,” he said.
FOR FORUM INFORMATION CONTACT
Medford-Jackson County Chamber of Commerce
101 E. 8th St.Medford, OR 97501
Phone: (541) 779-4847
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Phone: (541) 779-4847

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