Oregon Forestry Industry Gears Up for Wildfire Season

As Oregon approaches another wildfire season, the state’s forestry industry is diligently preparing to mitigate the risks and protect both the forests and the communities they serve.

This critical undertaking not only involves implementing preventative measures but also recognizing and supporting the extraordinary men and women who selflessly put their lives on the line to protect us from wildfires year after year.

Recently, two prominent members of Oregon’s forestry industry have taken action to address wildfire prevention, mental health support, and express gratitude to the brave firefighters who safeguard Oregon’s natural resources.

First, the Oregon Forest Protection Association (OFPA) recently donated $1,000 to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation (WFF). The check was presented during an incident management team training event organized by the Oregon Department of Forestry. Burk Minor, the executive director of WFF, expressed heartfelt appreciation for the contribution from OFPA, emphasizing how “it directly supports the foundation’s mission and bolsters the resources available to firefighters and their families during times of need.”

Brennan Garrelts, representing OFPA, commented on the importance of wildfire prevention and the decision to support the Wildland Firefighter Foundation:

“Preventing wildfires is a collective responsibility, and we recognize the immense dedication and sacrifices made by firefighters who confront these formidable challenges. Our donation to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation aims to express our gratitude for their selfless service and provide tangible support to the brave men and women who protect our forests and communities.”

In the summer of 2022, Oregon witnessed a tragic incident where a firefighter lost his life while battling a wildfire in Southern Oregon. This incident, sadly, brought into focus the importance of organizations like the WFF. Michael Curran from the Oregon Department of Forestry also emphasizes the crucial role WFFF provides in such circumstances.

Wildland Firefighter Foundation Monument
Wildland Firefighter Foundation Monument

“The Wildland Firefighter Foundation’s support was invaluable during that difficult time, offering assistance to the fallen firefighter’s family and providing crucial resources to help them cope with their loss. OFPA’s contribution to the Foundation will help them continue that critical support.”

Secondly, Weyerhaeuser has again partnered with the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance. This collaboration prioritizes the mental health and well-being of wildland firefighters by providing resources, awareness campaigns, and support networks. By acknowledging the psychological impact of firefighting and promoting a culture of mental health awareness, Weyerhaeuser aims to ensure the holistic well-being of firefighters who face significant emotional challenges on the job. “After launching last year’s inaugural Fighting Fires Together campaign with FBHA, we are proud to continue this effort to support wildland firefighters and their mental health as they risk their lives to protect our communities,” says Bill Frings, vice president of Western Timberlands for Weyerhaeuser. “Weyerhaeuser’s approach to wildfire preparedness, prevention and mitigation is a year-round strategy, and part of this work includes ensuring wildland firefighters have access to the resources they need to carry out this important work.”

These are just two of many ways the forestry industry seeks to help prevent and support the fighting of forest fires. Each year, Oregon faces the harsh reality of wildfires, which threaten both its vast forested landscapes and the well-being of its inhabitants. In the past decade alone, the state has experienced an average of more than 1,600 wildfires annually, resulting in millions of acres burned and substantial economic losses. These wildfires serve as a stark reminder of the urgent need for collective action and support for those battling the blazes on the frontlines.

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