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The number of Oregonians told to evacuate because of unprecedented wildfires is more than 40,000 – not the 500,000 residents initially and erroneously announced by Oregon’s Office of Emergency Management, Gov. Kate Brown acknowledged Friday following publication of an analysis by The Oregonian/OregonLive showing the true number of evacuations to be far lower.
I was a bit skeptical of the 500,000 number when it was published because it would mean that slightly over 10% of Oregon’s 4.2 million residents were evacuated from their homes. Oregon is the ninth largest state in the US. I live in an urban area but in about 10 minutes I can drive from an urban area and be in rural farmland, and forests.
Regardless of that mistaken 500,000 number, the fire damage that includes loss of homes, and businesses are sobering. The search for the dead and missing is in the beginning stages. There is an effort underway to prevent looting, as well as arson investigations, and investigations into other man-made causes of the fires.
The blame game of climate change is beginning, but like California, the clearing of undergrowth and dead trees has been ignored in Oregon or prevented by endless lawsuits from environmental activists. Whether people choose to believe it or not, managing forests requires thinning trees, and clearing undergrowth.
After being rocked by Covid-19, over 100 days of riots in Portland that include businesses losses, and now the wildfires in Oregon the property tax measures still keep coming. The governor, state legislature, and local governments might want to take a deep breath and assess the financial situation in Oregon before they start burning through money. One thing they need to do is restart sane forest management.
I’m not optimistic that sanity will prevail in Salem or Portland. I’m willing to bet that the “Friends of”- insert the name of your group here- will ensure that dysfunction will be the only thing that the state will produce.Published in