business issues
Rep. Walden meets with business leaders to discuss impacts of smoke to the local economy
by Georgia Lawson, KTVL Thursday, August 2nd 2018
MEDFORD, Ore. — Following weeks of poor air quality, Rep. Greg Walden sat down with industry leaders and citizens to hear concerns and discuss solutions to the smokey skies. "We're a tourist based economy. We're Oregonions. We love the outdoors in the summer. We put up with all the rain and clouds in the winter so we can have a good time outdoors in the summer," Says Rep. Walden.

Fire season overlaps with peak tourist season, meaning when fire hits, and smoke floods the valley, critical industries suffer. Events that typically draw people, and their money, to southern Oregon have felt the impact. "The attractions, the outdoor adventures, the wineries that we're hearing of. I spoke with the gm of one of our best golf courses in Medford yesterday and they're down 30 percent," says Eli Matthews, Senior Vice President of Travel Medford. Smoke may prevent growth of what could otherwise be a larger source of income for the Rogue Valley. In terms of solutions, representative Walden focused on better forest manegement where trees have become dense in recent decades due to logging restrictions. He also spoke of integrating state and federal approaches. "There's still a concern about how the federal government attacks versus private land owners and the state of Oregon," says Rep. Walden. "Once again, the state of Oregon under ODF gets big kudos for how they put out fires. We've got more work to do at the federal level." While it's too late to prevent smoke this fire season, Rep. Walden and local business owners said they plan to continue working on the issue for a clearer summer next year. The Farm Bill, which is moving through the Senate right now, has provisions to allow for more forest thining. Rep. Walden also plans to hold a hearing this fall to discuss smoke impacts.
The Chamber of Medford/Jackson County
101 E. 8th St.  |  Medford, OR 97501
Phone: (541) 779-4847