local spotlight
As a local businessman, parent and outdoor enthusiast, I have experienced the impacts of the wildfires and smoke firsthand.

For the second consecutive summer, hazardous smoke levels have negatively affected businesses and kept people inside — or forced them to leave the valley. This is a serious problem that needs an immediate response from all parties.

The economic impact of the wildfires is complex. My long term concern is how our fragile economy — which relies heavily on the retirement, healthcare and tourism industries — will be able to recover from the new “smoked out during the summers” stigma we will surely be labeled with. How do our businesses recruit new employees when their entire summers will be a gloomy, depressing indoor experience? How do we keep new, young professionals that move to Southern Oregon for outdoor recreation coming here in the future?

The local economy recovered somewhat from the near elimination of the logging industry. While I don’t believe clear cutting is the answer, those that manage our forests should be ashamed of the current situation, and immediately implement an emergency response to avoid huge economic implications.

On a personal level, my family’s ability to enjoy Southern Oregon’s numerous recreation opportunities has been completely eliminated. We usually hike several times to the waterfalls or mountain lakes, but not this year. After work, I find the family sealed up in the house instead of enjoying their normal activities. I mountain bike frequently, and I rode 26 times before the July 15th lightning storms. I have biked only twice since then. Fall high school sports, such as football and soccer, are being held inside due to the hazardous smoke.

Southern Oregon’s beautiful landscapes and environment also suffer at the hands of the wildfires. Natural habitats and wildlife are in constant danger, and are unfortunately ravaged by the ravenous fires. There is no simple answer to the wildfires and smoke which currently plague Southern Oregon. But to watch our summers disappear year after year is unacceptable.

We must encourage our legislators to take this issue seriously so we can provide clean air, a healthy environment and enjoyable summers for future generations.
Allen Purdy, President of S+B James Construction
Written by Rebecca Scott
Medford-Jackson County Chamber of Commerce
101 E. 8th St.  |  Medford, OR 97501
Phone: (541) 779-4847
August: Real Estate & Construction