Two Ashlanders will have seats on Gov. Kate Brown's new Oregon Wildfire Council, charged with helping shape the state's future road map for how it prevents, suppresses and recovers from wildfires and the community-threatening smoke that ensues each summer.
Capt. Chris Chambers of Ashland Fire & Rescue and state Rep. Pam Marsh, D-Ashland, will sit on the council formed by a mix of public officials and experts in health, economic and environmental aspects of wildfires and their myriad impacts.
The council’s first meeting is Monday in Salem.
More members could be added as the council progresses in its charge, according to the governor's office.
As outlined in an executive order Brown signed in January, the council will be broken into three working subcommittees focusing on mitigation, suppression and recovery, according to the governor’s office.
The council’s chair is Matt Donegan, co-founder and former co-president of Forest Capital Partners, who has an extensive background in forestry and business.
Brown spokeswoman Kate Kondayen said the governor’s office, legislative members and Donegan both reached out and fielded interests from a pool of people to create a council that represents a variety of viewpoints and experiences across Oregon.
The council comes after one of the worst wildfire seasons Oregon has ever seen, with rampant smoke that choked Southern Oregon’s residents, tourists and businesses with a record 23 days of unhealthy air in Medford last summer.
It also comes as a consortium of government agencies, businesses and conservation groups have worked on massive thinning and burning projects in and around the Ashland Watershed designed to reduce the likelihood and intensity of future wildfires in the forests backing up to Ashland.
Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.